Ask any astronomer what most frustrating thing about the pursuit is, and they will likely give you an answer along the lines of ‘cloud.’ I always quite liked clouds, especially those fluffy ones like on the title credits of the Simpsons (puts on Nerd Hat, straightens bow tie, clears throat “I think you’ll find those are called Cumulus clouds.” Takes off hat, gets back into cupboard under stairs) so, naturally, when I was warned about what a menace they were, I was sceptical. Let me tell you, a menace they are. This weekend’s viewing was defined by my telescope racing to clear spots to try and pinpoint an object before the cloud closed in. Not very successfully I might add. So what was once my friend as a photography has become my enemy as an astronomer. But then, I will have to wind my neck in and accept that some nights will just go that way. In the grand scheme of things, a clouded off astronomy session is not a big deal, particularly as I have a shameful collection of DVDs of other people doing astronomy for when I can’t.
So clouds are truly the enemy of free thinking astronomers everywhere, and I have myself spent more time shaking my fist and cursing at clouds in the sky than actually looking at anything in it. Still, it’s given me scope to be very inventive with my curse words. Perhaps every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.