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No. 110: Mar-Apr 1997

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Unusual Circulating Cloud Object

July 24, 1996. Malborough, South Devon. About midnight on this date, E. Netley and his wife observed a most peculiar cloud formation. It was so well-formed and precisely organized that Netley felt that the term "cloud object" was appropriate. Even so, he was confident that the apparition represented a natural phenomenon. "Natural" probably, but certainly the strangest cloud we have encountered in 30 years of literature research.

The evening of July 23 was warm and a bit humid, with a modest breeze blowing in from the ocean. Netley and wife first saw the "cloud object" from a distance of about a kilometer; they eventually walked to within 400 meters of the phenomenon. The "object" consisted of a slowly rotating ring of thin, vertically oriented clouds. (See figure.) The cloud ring was 80-100 meters across and seemed to rotate in a horizontal plane at the rate of about one revolution per minute.

As though this were not strange enough, the rotating "cloud object" itself moved in a larger circle 8-10 times the diameter of the "cloud object." The "cloud object" took 4-5 minutes to complete a trip around the larger circle. The phenomenon lasted for about an hour before dissipating.

(Netley, Edward; "Unusual Circulating Cloud Object," Journal of Meteorology, U.K., 21:384, 1996.)

Revolving 'cloud object' Sketch of the revolving "cloud object". Part of the circle is omitted for clarity; it was actually complete. Like a wheel-within-a-wheel, this circle moved around a larger circular path.

From Science Frontiers #110, MAR-APR 1997. 1997-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987