The human brain has been honed through millennia to recognise patterns around us, from the shape of fruit in a tree to a lion in the grass. This ability has enabled us to react quickly to danger or opportunity when it presents itself. These days we don’t use it for such important things any more, now our brain uses that same ability to see familiar shapes and objects in other things. Like seeing a picture of Jesus in our toast or a rabbit in the clouds. In fact, if you stare long enough at clouds as they float by you can see the shape of almost anything floating by in the sky. When clouds form in the atmosphere they can form in just about any shape, this shape is governed by the wind speed, the temperature, and the relative saturation points in the atmosphere. So normally the shape of a cloud is completely random. But some clouds form shapes that anyone can recognise. Can you see a hexagon in this picture?
This is an amazing pattern of natural cloud formation, and if you haven’t seen it before you will be surprised at its real size, each side of this hexagon is 13,800km long which is more than the diameter of the Earth and it rotates at more than 7,000 km/h.
This incredible cloud formation is at the North Pole of Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun and was first noticed in 1981 when Voyager flew past and took pictures of it. It has been like this for over 30 years and probably much, much longer. This is just one of the many amazing weather features in our solar system that scientists are studying and modelling. When it comes to weather we really are not alone in the universe.