Reading the Weather: The Alphabet from Space

November 19, 2018
Alphabet from Space

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

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to “Weather Whispers” by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these articles. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.