Tips and Help

  • Did you know that your cloud observations are most helpful if taken when a NASA cloud-observing satellite is overhead? You can find out when to take these observations by selecting "Check Satellite Flyovers" or clicking on the satellite icon in the app.
  • Did you know that you can make GLOBE Observer observations even when you are offline? Simply open the app, take the observation, and save the data. Then, when you get back to an area where you have wifi or cell service, review and submit your observations to GLOBE. 
  • To do your cloud observations, try to find a nice open space where you have a good view of the sky all around you. Once you have located a site, look up and spend some time gazing at the clouds around you. Think about how high the clouds appear to be - do they seem to be in layers?  As it turns out, different types of clouds are found in different layers of the sky. The highest clouds are called "cirrus" or "cirro-", and they are up at 18,000 feet. The middle layer of clouds are known as "alto-" and they range from 6,500 to 18,000 feet. The lowest clouds can go from your feet up to about 6,500 feet, and these are known as "stratus" or "strato-" clouds. Don't worry if you can't identify these layers right away - it takes time to really feel comfortable estimating the height of these clouds. 
  • A fun way to use this app with kids is to have them use the compass to find the cardinal directions. Have each child face a different cardinal direction, and let them pass the smartphone or other device around to take the pictures of the sky. If you have more than four kids helping you, let one take the picture straight up (you can tell them that we call this the "zenith") and let another take the picture straight down.

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Altostratus in Southeastern Virginia

Compare to stratus and cirrostratus photos to contrast the opacity (amount of light reduction) by these clouds.

Photo by Lin Chambers.