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Media we love: The book A Cloud a Day

Media we love: Book cover showing a painting of multi-colored towering clouds.
EarthSky’s Kelly Kizer Whitt recommends A Cloud a Day by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. Learn more about this engrossing, richly illustrated book in this edition of “Media we love.” Image via Chronicle Books.

Media we love: A Cloud a Day

Kelly Kizer Whitt recommends “A Cloud a Day”

As a lover of all things in the sky, I was thrilled with the beauty and quality of the book A Cloud a Day. Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, is the perfect guide to take you through all the forms of clouds you might see in the sky. We get a view of clouds from below as passengers on Earth, but we also get to look down on clouds from planes, satellites and the International Space Station. We even journey beyond Earth to witness clouds on other worlds and the nebulous clouds of gas and dust that exist between the stars.

Despite my background in astronomy and meteorology, I still had plenty to learn from the book. For example, a near-daily cumulonimbus cloud named Hector the Convector charmed me:

It forms practically every afternoon from September through March over the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin, Australia. The cloud is enormous, often reaching to altitudes as high as 20 kilometers (12 miles). Hector’s name was given to it by Second World War pilots, for whom the steadfast dependability of its position made it a natural navigation marker that was visible from great distances.

I also became obsessed with learning more about the world’s best lightning displays after reading about them in the book. This hyperactive lightning occurs in Venezuela, where the Catatumbo River meets Lake Maracaibo. The lightning storms are a nearly nonstop presence on about half the nights of the year. As the book said:

The thunderstorms are so high and far enough away from local settlements that they are often seen without any sound of thunder. The silent storms produce so much lightning for up to ten hours a night that the locals need blackout blinds to sleep.

You’ll be on cloud nine

This book may put you on cloud nine, and it will also explain where that phrase comes from. In fact, on each page you’ll find a helpful scientific description or a quote, along with credit to the photographer and location. The images span all corners of the globe.

“A Cloud a Day” is the perfect size. It’s large enough so that you get a good look at each photo but small enough that you can throw it in your bag and take it on holiday. At 6 x 8 inches, it’s smaller than your average coffee table book. Yet it’s also thicker, giving you more to love. There are 365 glorious images, to be precise, so you can linger over this book like a page-a-day calendar or gobble it up in one sitting.

This is a great book to treat yourself with, but it also would make a great gift for that person in your life who loves looking up.

Open book showing orangish lenticular clouds and a hole punched through a cloud layer, with text.
A glimpse inside A Cloud a Day. The book focuses on beautiful images but adds depth with explanations and quotations. These pages highlight lenticular clouds and a fallstreak hole. Image via Chronicle Books.

Media we love! EarthSky Editors share their favorite Earth- and space-based books, TV shows, movies, games, podcasts, YouTube videos and more.

Bottom line: In this installment of Media we love, EarthSky editor Kelly Kizer Whitt recommends the book “A Cloud a Day.”

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