Reading the Weather: The Alphabet from Space

Alphabet from Space


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We’ve all gazed at the clouds, and seen different shapes such as animals or faces, right? Here’s a new twist …

Adam Voiland, a NASA scientist and new dad, has read Dr. Seuss’s ABC books so many times that he started to see letters of the alphabet in NASA’s satellite pictures of Earth! It was as easy and fun as the A-B-Cs!

The Letter “A” — for Utah’s Green River.


The Letter “B” — for the Arkansas River.



The Letter “C” — for an artificial island off of Bahrain.


Others have joined the game, which you can view at The rules are that you can only use NASA satellite imagery and astronaut photography. NASA welcomes others to join the insanity. If you can find a better picture, they ask you to email them and give the picture’s date, latitude and longitude.

Some letters, like the Lonar Meteor Crater that make Q have lasted 52,000 years while others, like the letter S are as momentary as clouds swirling over the Atlantic Ocean. (All photos: NASA)



Some letters, like O and C are fairly easy to find. However, the letters A, B and R are challenging and they would welcome a replacement. While some features are permanent, like the Lonar meteor impact crater in India, some letters are made of clouds, phytoplankton blooms, and dust clouds and last only a moment.

On December 15, Adam Vollard posted his alphabet blog with all 26 letters. It’s pretty amazing and rather Dr. Seuss-ish. Plus, who doesn’t love to look at stunning photos of Earth?

Join the …

F — A false color image of the Himalayan Mountains

U — A river in Utah

N — Ship tracks over the Pacific

And the next time you see satellite pictures of the weather or Earth, look closely! Enjoy the sightseeing!

About This Blog

Evelyn Browning Garriss doesn't just blog about the weather forecast; she provides insight on WHY extreme weather is happening--and a heads up on weather to watch out for. A historical climatologist, Evelyn blogs about weather history, interesting facts about the weather, and upcoming climate events that affect your life--from farming to your grocery bill. Every week, we look forward to another great weather column from Evelyn. We encourage our weather watchers to post their comments and questions--and tell us what they think!

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