IT IS now mid-July, the summer solstice is far behind us, and that means one thing for skywatchers: the nights are drawing in, writes STUART ATKINSON. Yes, it's now actually getting dark enough after midnight to see stars properly, and within a month the sky will be dark enough to see the Milky Way airbrushed across the sky and the first stars of autumn will be poking their heads above the eastern horizon after midnight.

It also means we are now approaching the end of the 2019 noctilucent cloud season, so you have only a couple of weeks left to try and catch a display of these beautiful night shining clouds, if you haven't seen any yet. I'd be very surprised if you haven't, after I've been telling you about them here every week, because this has been a fantastic year for NLC and lots of them have been visible from Cumbria - but only if you make an effort to look for them, of course.

So, from now until the end of July please keep an eye on the northern sky from around 11.30pm, just in case a display is going on. You are looking for thin streaks, billows, whirls and swirls of grey-blue cloud that seem to be shining as if lit from within. If a big display kicks off by midnight or 1am the whole of the northern sky will be painted with silvery-blue patterns of NLC, so bright they immediately catch your eye.

Actually, this year's season has been so active I have a sneaking suspicion it might run through into August, but we'll see.

While you're looking for NLC in the north don't forget to look to the south too, where you'll see Jupiter (very bright blue-white star) and Saturn (fainter yellow-white star to Jupiter's left) shining low in the sky.