'Aloha, A! What begins with A? There is Antarctica, Azerbaijan, algal blooms, and alluvial fans. Astronauts appreciating awe-inspiring views of Earth from above. And these ancient Appalachian ridges in America intersected by an azure river in autumn!'
We've all looked up at clouds and found faces, objects and animals within their white puffy shapes. Astronauts and satellites can do the same thing - but from far above in outer space...
While working on a story about wildfires in northern Canada, NASA science writer and new father Adam Voiland found a stunning satellite image of an enormous smoke cloud, many miles across, shaped like the letter 'V'. The majesty of that image made Adam wonder: could he track down all 26 letters of the alphabet for his newborn baby son, using only satellite imagery and photographs of the Earth taken by astronauts? With the help of readers and colleagues at NASA, he started to collect images of clouds, blooms of sea plankton and dust storms that formed shapes reminiscent of all the letters from A to Z.
The result is this beautiful book of earth imagery. It offers a unique view of the alphabet, where letters are spelled out by rivers, deserts, mountains and ice. At a time when Space travel is more popular than ever, and astronauts from Chris Hadfield to Tim Peake are inspiring a whole generation of young readers, this book is a delight for adults and children alike. It is at once a celebration of Space, language and the natural beauty of our home planet, and a gift to keep for ever.
Adam Voiland is a science writer and the social media editor for the NASA Earth Observatory.