On Noctilucent, or Night-Shining Clouds

Living in Singapore, a highly urbanized island-state situated almost right smack on the Equator means that I don’t get to witness much astronomical or meteorological phenomena. It’s lucky for us to spot more than a dozen stars on a clear night, factoring in the light pollution and some of those might just be satellites masquerading as stars.

In the high latitudes however, there is a strange phenomena known as noctilucent clouds. These are “glowing silver-blue clouds that sometimes light up summer night skies at high latitudes, after sunset and before sunrise. […] They form in the highest reaches of the atmosphere – the mesosphere – as much as 50 miles (80 km) above the Earth’s surface. They’re seen during summer in polar regions. They’re typically seen between about 45° and 60° latitude, from May through August in the Northern Hemisphere or November through February in the Southern Hemisphere.” NASA’s AIM satellite, which is in a polar orbit, monitors such mysterious clouds. More info here. The photos below  are by NASA unless credited otherwise.

Photo By: Martin Koitmäe

Watch this video below for a view from outer space.

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