24 October 2016
Alfred Lee says he captured this image in mid-February over Hong Kong skies.
Alfred Lee says he captured this image in mid-February over Hong Kong skies.

Hongkonger wins NASA accolade for image of rare cloud formation

A Hong Kong amateur photographer has won recognition from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for capturing the image of a rare cloud formation in the sky.

Alfred Lee’s picture was named “Astronomy Picture of the Day” by NASA and was posted on the space agency’s website as well as its Facebook page on Wednesday.

That came after local photography enthusiasts emailed pictures of a UFO-like cloud that appeared over Hong Kong skies recently, Apple Daily reported.

A photograph taken by Lee, an astronomy and meteorology enthusiast who has a regular daytime job in the banking industry, was identified as the best of the lot.

The picture captured two types of unusual cloud that appeared at the same time, NASA commented. In the foreground was a long lenticular cloud, a cloud that forms near mountains from uprising air and might appear to some as an alien spaceship.

Higher in the sky, and further in the background, was a colorful iridescent cloud.

Iridescent clouds are composed of water droplets of similar size that diffract different colors of sunlight by varying degrees.

Furthest in the background is the sun, blocked from direct view by the opaque lenticular, but providing the light for the colors of the iridescent.

Either type of cloud is unusual in Hong Kong. The formation lasted for just a few minutes, but Lee managed to record it on his camera.

Lee was quoted as saying that he took the picture in Ma On Shan in mid-February.

He was glad that NASA chose his picture for special recognition, Lee said, adding that he hopes people will pay more attention to special things that happen in their surroundings.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Observatory on Thursday launched a new webpage that could help photographers who love to take pictures of clouds, Ming Pao Daily reported.

The Weather Information for Outdoor Photography Webpage provides upper-air observations which show the vertical variations of air temperature, dew point temperature, wind speed and wind direction in the lower atmosphere.

This will be useful for identifying the existence of relatively moist air or temperature inversion in the atmosphere, so as to assess the possibility of the formation of clouds, frost, fog or haze.

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