Many ‘experts’ and commentators have been saying that it’s too early to start looking for noctilucent clouds, or “NLC”, that we’d have to wait until early June, but last night the first NLC of the year were seen and photographed (see the NLC Observers page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Noctilucent-Cloud-Observers-2012/199329523453711 ) so it seems that the 2012 NLC Season has officially kicked off! Yaaay!!!!
The NLC were seen at around 2am, and were quite faint and didn’t have a lot of detail or structure, but that’s not the point. We always start off with small, weak displays, and build up to bigger, jaw-dropping ones, so last night was par for the course, if a little early.
What does this mean? Well, it means that any clear night – ANY clear night – from now until, say, August, it’s worth staying up late and casting an eye at the northern sky around and after midnight (and for the next couple of weeks at least, up until 3am too) just in case a display of NLC is starting. We may get lucky and have a big display early in the season, but it’s more likely that the first few will be very small scale, faint and less than dramatic, really just wisps and trails of icy blue-white in the bright northern sky.
But, we’ve started! It’s on! So, dust off those binoculars, clean your camera, charge up its batteries, check no-one’s built a block of flats blocking your view north at your favourite viewing location, and get ready for some late nights and early mornings.
The NLC season is full of frustration, disappointment, and worse. It’s also full of excitement, expectation, and beauty.
Bring it on! :-)
Note: For a full guide to observing NLC, look to the top of this page and you’ll see a tab with “NLC” on it. Click on that and you’ll be taken to a detailed feature with all the information you’ll need to enjoy/survive the weeks ahead!
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