Kaleidoscope Sky

“Our eyes reveal an ever-shifting pageant of arriving light. Within these pages are but a few captured moments when the sky overhead briefly flowered, flashed, and flaunted its celestial artistry. Yet every day the ever-enchanting light show beckons for deeper understanding and appreciation. I invite you to join me—to observe, study, and enjoy the visual feats and temporal treasures of our changing kaleidoscope sky.” — Meteorologist and Naturalist Tim Herd

A magical illustrated tour of nature’s almost supernatural skyscapes, Kaleidoscope Sky by Tim Herd is a book filled with glorious colors and glimpses of nature’s splendors. The sky provides the most spectacular show on Earth, and Herd reveals the beauty and the science behind these rare and fleeting celestial spectacles—phenomena such as rainbows, moonbows, coronas, glories, halos, arcs, mirages, green flashes, red sprites, blue jets, airglows, auroras, and other atmospheric marvels.

Luminous arcs stack and shimmer near Davos, Switzerland. From top to bottom, centered on the Sun at 12 degrees elevation: the 22-degree halo, the gull-winged upper tangent arc, the supralateral arc, all topped by the circumzenithal arc. Appearing inside the 22-degree halo is a vertical sun pillar, which ends with a faint and very rare v-shaped Moilanen arc, and a portion of the horizontal parhelic circle. Parhelia brighten the sides of the 22-degree halo. Also easily noticeable in this portrai is the relative dark halo interior compared to the brighter but decreasing intensity of its outer edge. Photo by Christian Rixen. 

One-hundred-and-sixty spectacular and scientifically significant color photos from around the world, dozens of clarifying graphics, and coherent explanations document the sky’s glorious artistry in an eye-opening, mind-expanding visual tour. And with simple prose, Herd explains the conditions that produce these everyday phenomena, as well as rarer sights such as auroras, halos, mirages, arcs, and moon bows. The subject is complex, but Herd provides a clear and accessible tour for armchair voyagers. His approach reveals his own awe and wonder at the sky’s glorious, ever-changing palette and challenges the reader’s “sky literacy.” He also provides tips on the best ways to predict, locate, observe, and photograph these spectacles.

Above: a creased and puckered auroral curtain sheathes the zenith in clear and very cold air over Fairbanks, Alaska. A three-second exposure by photographer Jan Curtis preserved its stark loveliness. 
 
Below, from left to right: iridescence through rocket exhaust; negative lightning barrage; mock mirage green flash; glory phenomena surrounding an airplane’s shadow