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Clouds: A Delightful Pocket Guide
on 2 September 2009
At last, after years of closet cloud watching, with phrases such as "big, fluffy ones" at my disposal, Gavin Pretor-Pinney's little handbook has arrived to help me out. I feel as though I have been gifted with a new language, as I begin to fit the luscious Latin of Altocumulus and Nimbostratus, to those wandering white things in the sky.
The book contains short, light-hearted descriptions of the 10 main cloud types, followed by species and varieties. It also has "other" clouds and their optical effects covered. The descriptions are good enough to cloud spot with a reasonable level of accuracy, and the photographs (2 or 3 for each description) are doubly helpful. Image quality, whilst not perfect, is no obstacle to identifying clouds. Also useful are the "Don't confuse with" tips, which differentiate between similar cloud types.
Much as I love watching and photographing clouds, I didn't buy this book to "collect" them, but rather as a field guide for when I'm out and about; for which purpose it's excellent. However, if you're a dedicated cloud spotter, you can play the game, and collect points for each cloud spotted, with room to note the date, time, location and weather conditions... and there's even a line for an image file reference if you've got your camera to hand.
Clouds have never been so fascinating, or amazing, and from the falling ice-crystal sighs of Cirrus, to the explosive Cumulonimbus, the ephemeral beauty of the skies above my head has become more complex, but more fathomable, thanks to this little book. Oh, and The Cloud Collector's Handbook does fit in my trouser pocket, though it sticks out a bit; it's light and slim (even in hardback), and perfect for a jacket pocket.