THE 2021 Noctilucent Cloud season is now underway!

Since the previous Skywatch column there have been several displays of these beautiful “night shining clouds” which only grace our skies during June and July.

Two were quite modest, but the other was unusually bright for so early in the season, which is a good sign and hopefully means that we’re in for an exciting couple of months ahead.

Typically the first major display occurs around the middle of June, so when this issue of the Gazette hits the streets we could be just days away from an NLC display that will fill the northern sky with swirls, whirls and curls of electric blue light.

Unlike displays of the northern lights, which can be predicted with some accuracy a couple of days in advance, Noctilucent cloud displays are a much more random affair.

Monitoring certain websites can give you a hint that a display might be on the horizon (literally) and following dedicated NLC watchers on social media will tell you when a display is visible, but the only way to guarantee seeing an NLC display is to look for it yourself.

That means going out around midnight on any clear night over the summer, looking north, and seeing if there are any streamers or whorls of NLC in the sky.

Most displays of NLC don’t begin until midnight or later, although bright ones can be visible from 11pm onwards, so you really do need to be very dedicated if you want to see every display during a season.

But just keeping an eye on the northern sky late on summer evenings will greatly increase your chances. And if you’re lucky you’ll see the whole of the northern sky painted with glowing patterns of silvery blue.

If they don’t appear you can still enjoy the sight of Jupiter and Saturn shining close together, low in the southern sky, after 2am.