Noctilucent Clouds Observed Over Sunderland, U.K.

February 15, 2016


Photographer: Matt Robinson
Summary Authors: Matt Robinson; Jim FosterFebruary 2016 Viewer's Choice

Shown above is an impressive display of noctilucent clouds observed over Sunderland, England, on the night of July 7, 2014. This was the most beautiful display of these glowing, blue-white clouds I've ever witnessed. They looked the same to the naked eye as in the photo and remained intense for over 5 hours. Noctilucent clouds form high in the atmosphere (50-55 mi or 80-88 km above the surface) and are composed of tiny (1/10,000 mm diameter) ice crystals.

Because they're so high, they're visible at ground level after sunset and before sunrise. The camera is facing northeast here. Note that, despite the early hour of 2:30, dawn is beginning to break. In early to mid summer at latitudes above about 55 degrees, the sky never gets completely dark — it's always twilight.

Photo Details: Camera Model: Canon EOS 1100D; Lens: EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 III; Focal Length: 18mm; Aperture: ƒ/16.0; Exposure Time: 20.000 s; ISO equiv: 400; Software: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6.3 (Macintosh).