Sharon Sargant, of Wollongbar, spotted this feather-shaped cloud and snapped it on her mobile phone.
Sharon Sargant, of Wollongbar, spotted this feather-shaped cloud and snapped it on her mobile phone.

Giant feather spotted in the sky

A GIANT feather was spotted floating in the sky over Wollongbar this week.

No bird stands as tall as Mt Kosciuszko, at least that we know of, so the several-kilometre-long feather definitely came from other means.

According to storm chaser Michael Bath, the feather is actually a cirrus cloud made from ice crystals that group together many kilometres above the earth's surface.

"Cirrus clouds are the highest, they form about eight to ten thousand metres above the surface," Mr Bath told The Northern Star.

"At that height it's about minus forty degrees, so the precipitation freezes."

Wind then blows the ice particles into weird and wonderful shapes.

Mr Bath said the feather- shaped cloud was about three kilometres long, although its exact size was hard to determine because it was isolated in a clear sky.

Meteorologist Steve Symonds, who worked at the Bureau of Meteorology for years, said he had never seen a cloud quite like it.

It was common for aircraft to leave condensation trails, which gave ice crystals something to stick to.

Mr Symonds said that a patch of dirty air from a plane or dirt from the ocean was what the ice particles most likely attached themselves to in this case.

According to Mr Symonds the moisture that was needed to form the ice particles came all the way from the Indian Ocean and the cloud took shape over Wollongbar entirely by chance.

Just as unexpected was the picture that Sharon Sargant snapped of it. Many people, including Mr Bath, use pricey equipment to take pictures of clouds, storms and lightning, but not Ms Sargant - she used her mobile phone.

Such clouds can be seen from up to 100 kilometres away, and while Mr Bath said they're more common in the cooler months, they can occur almost anywhere at any time.

Mr Symonds said with enough plane flights and current weather conditions on the North Coast, more odd-shaped clouds should form in the region in days to come.



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