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Noctilucent Cloud Season Begins
July 6, 2011
 
A nesting stork stands against a back drop of noctilucent clouds.
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In Poland, noctilucent clouds season is the time of young stork births. Thousands of storks (Ciconia ciconia) arrive in Poland each spring. This photo was captured on June 26, 2011 and shows a nesting stork standing against a back drop of noctilucent clouds. Image courtesy of Marek Nikode.

Notilucent clouds as seen near Edmonton, Alberta Canada on July 2, 2011. › View larger
NLCs near Edmonton, Alberta Canada on July 2, 2011. Image courtesy of Dave Hughes

Notilucent clouds over Loch Leven Fife, Scotland on July 2, 2011. › View larger
NLCs at Loch Leven, Fife Scotland on July 2, 2011. Image courtesy of Adrian Maricic

Notilucent clouds on July 3, 2011 as viewed in Lock Leven, Fife Scotland. › View larger
NLCs on July 3, 2011 in Lock Leven, Fife Scotland. Image courtesy of Adrian Maricic

When noctilucent clouds (NLCs) first appeared in the 19th century, they were a high-latitude phenomenon. You had to travel toward the poles to see their electric-blue glow. Not anymore. Just this past weekend, these beautiful, "night-shining" clouds spilled over the Canadian border into the lower United States as far south as Denver, Colorado.

In recent years, a NASA spacecraft called AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere) has spotted the clouds appearing ever lower in latitudes, but just why is not yet known. AIM studies the clouds in order to better understand our lower atmosphere and how it is connected to weather and climate.

The clouds are seasonal, appearing most often in late spring and summer. In the northern hemisphere, the best time to search for these beauties would be between mid-May and the end of August.

Related Links


› Read more about the AIM mission

› View the 2011 NLC Gallery

 

Karen C. Fox/Tony Phillips/Holly Zell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

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Page Last Updated: August 13th, 2013
Page Editor: Holly Zell