Luke Howard was born in London 28 November 1772, the first child of Robert and Elizabeth Howard. Robert was a successful businessman and stanch Quaker.

Luke attended a Quaker school in Burford, Oxfordshire, then apprenticed at a retail chemist in Stockport, Manchester.

He became a pharmacist, chemist, and meteorologist.

He developed a system for naming clouds:

•  Three principal categories: cumulus, stratus, and cirrus.

•  Compound names for transitional clouds such as cirrostratus and stratocumulus.

In December 1802, he presented a paper to the Royal Society: “On the modification of clouds” (‘modification’ meaning ‘classification’). The paper proposed names for clouds, many of which are still in use today.


Howard’s sketch of cumulus with anvil

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on March 8, 1821.



Cloud Appreciation Society

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