Astronomy · Projects · Noctilucent Cloud Log

Noctilucent CloudsNoctilucent Clouds (a.k.a. polar mesospheric clouds) are a bright cloud-like phenomenon visible during the deep twilight of summer when the sun is only just below the horizon. They are the highest clouds, located in the mesosphere around 85km up and are still not fully understood (volcanic debris, space shuttle exhaust plumes and climate change are all candidates) although there is currently a NASA mission studying them. The observing season usually stretches between late May and early August and the displays can be bright and intricate as is seen in some of the images in my gallery.

2013 Observing Season · 8-9 June · 20-21 July (2 Reports)

2011 Observing Season · 11-12 June · 03-04 July (2 Reports)

2009 Observing Season · 28-29 May (1 Report)

2007 Observing Season · 25-26 May · 20-21 June · 27-28 June · 29-30 June (4 Reports)

Other Links and Galleries

Andy Ciavarella's NLC Page - images taken of NLCs seen from Durham
Martin McKenna's NLC Pages - very comprehensive image galleries for NLCs seen from Northern Ireland
Eric Walker's NLC Reports - images and reports from Conon Bridge, Scotland

20-21 July 2013 · 23:00-03:00BST

We were camped on the sands of Sandwood Bay in the far northwest of Scotland. After dark a bright formation emerged and this was present throughout the night.

Noctilucent clouds from Sandwood Bay Noctilucent clouds from Sandwood Bay

08-09 June 2013 · 23:30-03:00BST

I was camped high on a hill above Loch Etive in the West Highlands of Scotland. As dusk finally fell I noticed the glow of Noctilucent Clouds appearing in the north. The display developed gradually becoming brighter and more complex. The evening was warm and I lay in my tent watching the display as it flickered over the mountains of Glencoe.

Noctilucent clouds above Loch Etive Noctilucent clouds in the northwest

02-03 July 2011 · 23:30-00:00 BST

Conditions were good on the evening of 2nd July 2011 and I spent a couple of hours wandering the streets of Aberdeen getting various views of a strong display that extended from NW to NE at an angle up to around 20 degrees. Light pollution had some negative effects on the show and it was difficult to get a good photograph of the display.

Noctilucent Clouds

11-12th June 2011 · 02:30-02:45 BST

Whilst out camping in the Cairngorm mountains I got up at around 2am to check out the conditions. After going to bed with snow falling outside the tent I woke to a clear and incredibly cold night. With midsummer approaching the sky wasn't dark but through the glimmer of light in the north I could detect very faint Noctilucent Clouds.

Faint noctilucent clouds over the Northern Corries

28th May 2009 · 23:30-00:00 BST

For the first time in Aberdeen I observed a structured though fairly dim display of Noctilucent clouds in the N-NE sky. I ventured out to Kincorth Nature Reserve to get a few shots of the display after conditions seemed to promise a good display.

Noctilucent Clouds over Aberdeen Noctilucent Clouds over Aberdeen

29-30th June 2007 · 23:00-01:00 BST

Last night (29-30th June) I observed some moderately bright, structured NLCs in the N-NW sky. I was very tired so didn't venture outside but did take a couple of shots from my landing window which give an impression of this display. The clouds were definitely visible as the twilight finally faded at around 23:00BST and by 00:30BST were visible as is seen here, with two distinctive areas of concentrated clouds forming bright, broad arcing shapes. The display was still visible when I went to bed at 01:00BST.

27-28th June 2007 · 23:30-02:00 BST

Max Altitude: 30 degrees; Azimuth: 330-20 degrees; Brightness: 4; Type: II, III, IV

A call from Andy Ciavarella got me hurrying from my house, camera and tripod in hand, out to the fields south and west of Northallerton where I was able to properly catch this intense display of Noctilucent Clouds. The display was brightest earlier on between 23:30 and 00:00 BST with bright whirls across a more typical banded type of cloud. As I got out into the fields the display changed subtly becoming perhaps less bright, but more extensive, with loops reaching down from the most concentrated area 20 degrees to the East of Capella. I was able to spend time getting some lovely shots of the display which stretched all the way across the Northern to North Western horizon, extending to its highest point approximately 10 degrees west of Capella. As I returned home I watched as a bright looping ribbon formed lower down below the previous extensive region to the East of Capella.

Click for a panorama of the display

20-21st June 2007 · 00:00-02:00 BST

Max Altitude: 15 degrees; Azimuth: 330-20 degrees; Brightness: 4; Type: IIab, IIIb

On the night of the 20th-21st June the inevitable happened and we got clear skies and a stunning display of Noctilucent Clouds. After a great evening with friends we staked out our new NLC viewing spot up at the college of St Aidan�s and were rewarded with absolutely stunning views of a bright, complex display of clouds in the northern sky. Our estimates placed it up to about 20 degrees altitude and extending round about 60 degrees towards the west. It was a great night and I spent much of it walking the fields outside Durham to get some nice views of the clouds. Sadly by about 2:30 BST the display was starting to fade and so I called it a night, very satisfied with finally bagging a beautiful display.

25-26th May 2007 · 00:30-01:40 BST

Max Altitude: 10 degrees; Azimuth: 340-30 degrees; Brightness: 2; Type: I

I've bagged my first NLCs of the season. These were somewhat lost against the light cloud which was moving through but still bright and well defined in a narrow band above the NW - N horizon. There didn't appear to be any discernible structure besides some faint horizontal banding, although this could have been caused by the tropospheric clouds moving in front.

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