IT LOOKS like the 2018 noctilucent cloud season is drawing to a close, writes STUART ATKINSON. The season runs from the beginning of June through to the end of July, but after a flurry of activity, when we saw noctilucent clouds shining and glowing blue in the northern sky for almost ten nights in a row, there have been no major displays for the past week. Although it's possible we may see more displays - and we still haven't had a jaw-droppingly spectacular 'storm' yet - 2018 might be past its best. If it is, we can't complain; I've seen and photographed more NLC displays in the past six weeks than in the last three years. But we'll see what happens. Keep an eye on the northern sky on any and every clear night over what's left of July, just in case the season decides to go out with a bang.

There are also lots of planets in the sky at the moment. Look to the west after sunset and you'll see Mercury looking like a small, golden star low above the horizon, with brighter Venus to its upper left. Around midnight you can see three other planets stretched out across the southern sky, all looking like stars: yellow-white Saturn will be due south, quite low down, with brighter, blue-white Jupiter over to its right, just above the south-western horizon. Mars will be rising in the east before midnight too, looking like a strikingly-bright, orange-red spark in the sky.

Also keep en eye open for shooting stars over the next few weeks. The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 12, but we should start to see the first of its shooting stars soon, zipping out of the sky from the north east after midnight on clear nights.