Timelapse: Watch Noctilucent Clouds Cover the Entire Sky

by Nancy Atkinson on August 25, 2014

This year, the noctilucent cloud season has been especially eventful, and this new timelapse from Swedish astrophotographer Göran Strand shows these “night-shining” clouds covering the entire sky over the course of 2 hours.

“On the 27th of July 2014 I saw some of the most beautiful Noctilucent Clouds I’ve ever seen,” Göran said via email. “They emerged shortly after sunset and after a while they covered the entire sky.”

In the movie you can see an all-sky timelapse view that shows how these clouds changed during the evening.

See some gorgeous still photos from that night, below:

Noctilucent clouds are wispy, glowing tendrils of high-altitude ice crystals that shine long after the Sun has set. They appear in upper latitudes only and form about 83 km (51 miles) up in the atmosphere. The icy clouds are illuminated by the Sun when it is just below the horizon, giving the clouds their “night-shining” properties.

Also called polar mesospheric clouds, these are the highest cloud formations in the atmosphere. They’ve been associated with rocket launches and space shuttle re-entries, and another theory is that they might also be associated with meteor activity.

Noctilucent clouds over Sweden on July 27, 2014. Credit and copyright: Göran Strand

Noctilucent clouds over Sweden on July 27, 2014. Credit and copyright: Göran Strand

Noctilucent clouds over Sweden on July 27, 2014. Credit and copyright: Göran Strand.

Noctilucent clouds over Sweden on July 27, 2014. Credit and copyright: Göran Strand.

See more of Goran’s work at his website, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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