Luke Howard was born in London 28 November 1772. He was the first child of successful businessman Robert Howard and his wife Elizabeth. He went to a Quaker school at Burford in Oxfordshire and then apprenticed at a retail chemist in Stockport.

He became a pharmacist, chemist and meteorologist.

He developed a system for naming clouds. Three principal categories of clouds: cumulus, stratus and cirrus. And compound names that accommodate transition between cloud categories, such as 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, some 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. He joined the Royal Meteorological Society on May 7, 1850, only a month after the society was founded. He died in London March 21,1864.