Adrien Mauduit Photography – Film posted this video at EarthSky Facebook on Friday, May 5, 2017. It’s meant to inspire you and inform you about noctilucent clouds, aka “night-shining” clouds. Adrien wrote:
As the Earth continues its path on its elliptical orbit around the sun, high latitudes and higher mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere are entering the midnight sun season. If you go too far up north, the sun never sets, but at lower latitude, like southern Scandinavia, the sun goes down just a few degrees under the horizon and lingers there for a few hours, gliding unnoticed from the north-west to the north-east.
This allows summer nights to remain in a constant twilight and it never gets dark enough to see the Milky Way or auroras, for example.
However this situation, combined with some precise conditions, can give birth to one of the most intriguing and jaw-dropping shows on Earth: noctilucent clouds.
While the Earth rotates far away from the sun in the summer, its mesosphere gets cooler, allowing the formation of tiny ice particles. These particle form the highest clouds on our planet (82km in the atmosphere) and wouldn’t be visible if it weren’t for the bright nights!
See, the sun being from 0 to 6 degrees under the horizon can, with the help of tropospheric clouds, emit rays that illuminate this ice layer, making the viewer’s night sky glow electric blue, yellow and orange!
The noctilucent cloud (NLC) season roughly starts at the end of May and finishes at the end of July in Denmark. You can gaze upon them when the weather is clear and potentially all night, most likely towards the north as the sun follows its course under the horizon, back-lighting the ice sheet.
As the 2017 NLC chasing season is about to kick off in Denmark, I assembled some of the best shots of the 2016 season in a 4K time-lapse video as a tribute, and also teaser for the 2017 season, in hope to encourage more and more people to go out and experience these mind-boggling displays.
All shots have been taken in Denmark in 2016 with Sony a7rII and Canon 70D.
Thank you, Adrien!
Bottom line: Noctilucent cloud season 2017 is coming! It starts around late May.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.