Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 October 2003
This article investigates visual methods in Victorian meteorology in the second half of the nineteenth century. While studies of visual representations in scientific work during this period have proliferated, there has been less attention paid to the relationships between scientific images and the broader visual culture in which they developed. Meteorology offers ideal ground for exploring visual culture and science, both because of the familiarity of the sky as an aesthetic subject, and because of the visual epistemology associated with popular forms of weather knowledge, called weather wisdom. Using examples from the study of clouds, especially the work of Charles Piazzi Smyth, the paper analyses the ways in which the challenges of meteorology raised questions about the nature of observation and precision. It concludes by suggesting that the broader context of Victorian visual culture must include the relationship of language and images, and traces those concerns in the history of cloud classification.