December - snowflakes You are here: Home Photo gallery Clouds Mesospheric clouds Noctilucent clouds


Noctilucent clouds are delicate, silvery-blueish clouds far above the troposphere. In summer time, they exist at about 82 km high (50 miles), high enough for the sunlight to illuminate them during the night. They can make a fantastic view, as I myself found out while taking my first photo series in the night of 18 to 19 June 1999. Note the beautiful sea of surface-fog draped like a veil over the countryland.

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Observing tips

Noctilucent clouds (NLC) can occur between 60 to 70 degrees latitude north or south, during the summer months. They may be seen by observers up to 10 degrees lower-latitude (not higher latitude than this belt, since twilight will interfere due to the midnight-sun). The best time to look for NLC is around midnight, low in the north or south (depending on your latitude), where they are still illuminated and seen against the faint twilight background.

NLC occur in different varieties. Common types are a veil, bands, billows, a net-structure, and swirls. NLC move fast and can appear and disappear in less than an hour, sometimes not to occur again for the remainder of the night. They cannot be forecast well, although the days near the summer solstice seem to give best sighting opportunities.