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…and STILL no sign of NLC…

For the first time in what, maybe a week, the sky above Kendal cleared of cloud last night, so just after 11pm up I trotted to Kendal Castle, camera, binocs and digital radio in hand (well, over my back and in my pocket) to scan the northern horizon and hopefully spot my first display of noctilucent clouds of 2010…

Up at the castle it was beautifully peaceful. Not another soul was around, and far below me Kendal itself was surprisingly and unusually quiet; not much traffic sound, just a single car alarm wailing briefly, and, for a short while, the shrill mating calls of a group of cider-fuelled chavs gathered in a nearby park, the sounds of their shiny shellsuits rustling and their neck chains clinking together fading away as they slunk away into the deepening darkness…

…and over to the NW, Venus, much fainter than it was just a month ago, was dropping down towards the horizon…

Soon the planet was almost touching the horizon…

…and then it was gone, surrendering the sky to a beautiful, breathtaking, stunning display of NLC!

I hoped. But no, nothing. Not a wisp, not a curl, not a tendril of NLC was there to be seen. A couple of airplane vapour trails appeared, briefly shining against the purple-blue sky, but they were pale and mocking imitations of the real thing, and although I remained at the Castle for almost two hours, patiently scanning the horizon again and again, again and again, no NLC appeared, and despite repeated attempts I didn’t pin down the location of Comet McNaught either (I thought I glimpsed it a couple of times in my binocs, but impossible to be sure), so when the digital radio station “Absolute 80’s” played U2’s song “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” at 1am I decided the Universe was sending me a message, telling me to get myself off to bed because it wasn’t going to oblige me with a display that night that’s just what I decided to do.

So, a clear night and no NLC. Not fair, not fair At All! But a lovely night of Venus-watching, and hey, a couple of very peaceful hours of standing by the ruins of an ancient castle, with Venus glowing through the haze, Mars and Saturn off to my left, and bats flitting, sweeping and swooping around me… can’t complain, eh? 🙂