The Clouds of Solstice Twilight Are Here!

Noctilucent Clouds Panorama #1 (June 21-22, 2014)

Look north in June and July from the Canadian Prairies and you are likely to see iridescent clouds shimmering in the mid-summer twilight. 

It’s been a good couple of nights for sighting noctilucent clouds – literally “night shining” clouds, or NLCs. These are odd water vapour clouds that form at the edge of space 80 km up where no self-respecting cloud has a right to exist.

But there they are. Existing and moving in waves in a near vacuum.

We see them because at solstice time the Sun’s light pours over the pole (where the midnight Sun is shining) and lights up the clouds that hang over the Canadian Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Noctilucent Clouds and Big Dipper

From the Prairies we see them far in the distance to the north, as here, shining low on the horizon amid the deep blues and reds of a perpetual twilight that never ends on our short summer nights.

The top photo, taken Saturday night, is a 5-section panorama with a short telephoto lens. The bottom image, taken early this morning, is just the opposite – a very wide angle shot showing the clouds in context, with the Big and Little Dippers at top left and centre.

Some images and movies from last year’s NLC season are in my blog post from June 27, 2013.

– Alan, June 23, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer


2 Replies to “The Clouds of Solstice Twilight Are Here!”

  1. Dear Mr. Dyer I am enjoying all of the pictures of the night skies that you are posting on the Amazing Sky. Also find it really interesting when you point out the different stars and planets in your photographs of the skies. I just took a little tour of the Province of Manitoba , by way of Google earth on my computer, and I truly believe the skies and the lands of Canada are really beautiful , although I think there are beautiful places all over this world. It is nice that today we have people who can tell us and show us the interesting things in the skies. I used to think space was just some empty void. I’m 87 years old ,so at times my thoughts might jump the track. I do enjoy all the pictures and talks about the skies that you astronomers come up with. Once I took a few art classes and the art instructor told us, there are some of us that go through life as though we had blinkers on and never look at trees and things. Although in this busy life when you are trying to earn a living there is not much time to stare at the trees too long. Thank you again and hope you will keep up the good work,———–your friend —frank

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