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The Cloudspotter's Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Cloudsby Gavin Pretor-Pinney
Synopses & Reviews
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? Veteran 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 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 popular advertisements, The Cloudspotter's Guide will have enthusiasts, poets, weather watchers, and the just plain curious floating on cloud nine. Looking up will never be the same again.
"With tongue firmly in cheek and more than a little irony, Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, clears up any confusion readers may have about what separates a stratus from a cirrus from a cumulonimbus. He starts at the bottom-that is, at sea level-and discusses the types of clouds that form at each level in the atmosphere. The result is an amusing and remarkably informative jaunt through the heavenly vapors that draws on classical poetry, physics, geekery and pop culture. Despite this improbable mélange, Pretor-Pinney succeeds in fleshing out subtleties and making difficult concepts like convection, advection, condensation and atmospheric optics comprehensible to almost any reader. The author has included dozens of illustrations, cloud photos (including one that looks like two cats dancing and another that resembles Thor hurling a lightning bolt) and diagrams showing the anatomy and lifecycles of clouds. Rounding out the volume are a chapter on the human effects on clouds and a narrative about the author's pursuit of the 'Morning Glory,' which he calls 'the most spectacular cloud in the world.' By mixing self-deprecating humor and hard science, Pretor-Pinney makes learning about clouds fun." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"For the author, cloudspotting is a gentle and reflective pursuit, one well-served by knowledge. He mixes physics, chemistry, literature and myth (according to ancient Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, Cumulus clouds are the spiritual cousins of elephants), and includes many delightfully captioned illustrations." Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness
"Lively, literate and great fun to read." Kirkus Reviews
Generously illustrated with striking photographs and line drawings, this text reveals the facts, trivia, and history of clouds and society's fascination with them.
About 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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