Noctilucent clouds are beautiful, ghostly, electric-blue wispy clouds high up in the atmosphere

First published in Opinion The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

WELL, there was no meteor shower last Saturday morning. Not that it mattered, as we were under porridge-thick cloud, and there will be a better chance in mid-August anyway. And remember, you can see shooting stars on any clear night, if you're lucky.

By the end of the week amateur astronomers will be kissing goodbye to regular sleep and starting to look out for Noctilucent Clouds, or "NLC". NLC are beautiful, ghostly, electric-blue wispy clouds high up in the atmosphere, which only appear in the sky between the end of May and the start of August.

Unlike the northern lights, we can't predict when NLC will appear, so we have to look out for them after midnight on any and every clear summer night, just hoping a display will be visible. Some displays are little more than a few wisps of silver barely clearing the felltops, but others can fill the whole northern sky with billows, swirls and curls of glowing blue. These major displays can last all night, and may still glowing serenely as the eastern sky brightens with the approach of dawn.

Stuart Atkinson, Eddington Astronomical Society of Kendal

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