Not a UFO over the Gemini North Telescope (photo)

The presented image was taken at the top of the Hawaiian volcano Mauna Kea, which is home to the Gemini North telescope. In the sky above it, you can see an object that looks like a flying saucer. But it’s not a UFO.

Lenticular cloud over the Gemini North telescope. Source: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. Chu

In fact, we see a lenticular cloud. This is a rather rare natural phenomenon. As a rule, such clouds arise from the leeward side of mountain ranges, behind ridges and individual peaks.

Lenticular clouds are formed in the presence of two factors: strong horizontal air flows forming waves over mountain obstacles, as well as high moisture content. In them there is a continuous process of condensation of water vapor when the dew point height is reached and their evaporation during the downward movement of air. Because of this, lenticular clouds will not mix, even in the presence of strong wind and hang as “glued” over the same point. In combination with the characteristic smooth plate-shaped form, it is not surprising that they are often mistaken for UFOs.

You can also admire a magnificent picture showing what the sunset looks like from the top of Mauna Kea.

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