The Cloudspotters Guide

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Overview

A quirky, clever guide for everyone who loves to look up.

Where do clouds come from? Why do they look the way they do? And why have they captured the imagination of timeless artists, Romantic poets, and every kid who's ever held a crayon? Journalist and lifelong sky watcher Gavin Pretor-Pinney reveals everything there is to know about clouds, from history and science to art and pop culture. Cumulus, nimbostratus, and the dramatic and seemingly surfable Morning Glory cloud are ...

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Overview

A quirky, clever guide for everyone who loves to look up.

Where do clouds come from? Why do they look the way they do? And why have they captured the imagination of timeless artists, Romantic poets, and every kid who's ever held a crayon? Journalist and lifelong sky watcher Gavin Pretor-Pinney reveals everything there is to know about clouds, from history and science to art and pop culture. Cumulus, nimbostratus, and the dramatic and seemingly surfable Morning Glory cloud are just a few of the varieties explored in this smart, witty, and eclectic tour through the skies.

Generously illustrated with striking photographs and line drawings featuring everything from classical paintings to lava lamps, children's drawings, and Roman coins, The Cloudspotter's Guide will have science and history buffs, weather watchers, and the just plain curious floating on cloud nine.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A handbook with pizzazz from the Oxford-educated founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. British journalist Pretor-Pinney brings enthusiasm and knowledge to the subject of clouds. All the basics of a field guide are here, with chapters on each of the ten fundamental types of clouds-the low-lying cumulus, cumulonimbus, stratus and stratocumulus; the mid-level altocumulus, altostratus and nimbostratus; and the high cirrus, cirrocumulus and cirrostratus-plus contrails and assorted others not recognized as true types. The author's "How-to-Spot" page on each cloud describes its characteristics, and tells how to distinguish among its subtypes and variations. The author spells out clearly, with words and diagrams, just how clouds form and the weather associated with each kind. Such facts, however, are but a small part of his armamentarium. He treats the reader to mini-essays on clouds in Christian iconography, in English literature, in Greek drama and mythology and in the Hindu religion; on their impact on historic battles; on the development of the cloud harp, a musical instrument that creates music from the shape of clouds above it; on the Chinese chemist who makes short-term earthquake predictions based on the appearance of certain types of clouds. There's even a dramatic story about a U.S. Air Force pilot who was forced to eject from his jet at 47,000 feet and was tossed around in the violent, icy heart of a cumulonimbus, or giant thunder cloud, for 40 minutes before his parachute landed him safely on earth. In the final chapter, Pretor-Pinney's obsession with clouds leads him to travel from England to Australia for the chance to see a Morning Glory, a tremendously long cloud formationthat cloudspotters consider the most spectacular in the world. Unfortunately, the tiny photos the author provides are inadequate to demonstrate this. Indeed, the book's usefulness as a guide would have been greatly enhanced if the numerous black-and-white photos where supplemented with color. Lively, literate and great fun to read.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399532566
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 6/6/2006
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.46 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gavin Pretor-Pinney is the co-founder of The Idler magazine in England. A former science nerd and a graduate of Oxford University, he has been obsessed with clouds since childhood. His writing has appeared in The Telegraph, The Evening Standard, and other publications in England, including The Idler Book of Crap Towns. Currently living in London, Gavin is the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society.

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Table of Contents

The low clouds
1 Cumulus 21
2 Cumulonimbus 45
3 Stratus 71
4 Stratocumulus 91
The middle clouds
5 Altocumulus 113
6 Altostratus 135
7 Nimbostratus 151
The high clouds
8 Cirrus 171
9 Cirrocumulus 195
10 Cirrostratus 211
Not forgetting ...
11 The other clouds 239
12 Contrails 253
13 The morning glory 283
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Customer Reviews

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