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More NLC…

Patience you must have, if noctilucent clouds you are to see…

– Yoda


Ok. Maybe the great Jedi Master didn’t actually say that, but I’m sure he would say that to anyone wanting to see a display of noctilucent clouds in the sky, from the UK, this summer. To see NLC from our part of the world you need patience just as much as you need a clear night sky, a clear northern view, and the ability to get by on less sleep than an insomniac vampire.

Last night was absolutely *perfect* for observing NLC from here in Kendal. As the Sun set the sky behind the few remaining clouds was that beautiful, brittle, orange-blue that tells you with one glance that it isn’t even thinking about clouding over – you’re going to have a clear sky all night. Woo-hoo! So, around 11.30, with the northern sky still a beautiful pale orange, and stars studding the heavens above, I went up to Kendal Castle to begin another night of NLC-hunting, optimistic that such a perfect, perfect night wouldn’t be wasted…

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I came back down at around quarter to one having seen not even a hint of a whisper of a trace of NLC. With the universe laughing at me from behind its hand I sat back down on the sofa, warming up with a cup of tea and a biccie. Deep sigh.

But I’ve been here before. Oh yes, I know that sometimes in summer the Universe is just waiting for you to give up and go home, just so it can paint the sky with NLC while you’re not looking. So I monitored Twitter and Facebook, and shortly after 1am my fellow NLC-watchers Ray Gilchrist (Barrow) and Adrian Strand (Whitehaven) reported that they were seeing faint NLC from their respective locations. So. Jacket back on, rucksack and tripod back over my shoulder, and back up to the Castle…

…where I was greeted with the sight of this…

…a faint but broad band of pale NLC, shining beneath Capella. Yes!

I stayed there for another hour and a half, taking lots of photos. The display never reached the dramatic scale of the previous night’s – you know, the one I saw <—-this—> much of in gaps in the coud – but it was very pretty in a subtle way, with some very subtle details visible through binoculars. It never became a striking sight, no very bright or sharp features or structures within it, but it did turn the northern sky a very attractive electric powdery blue, and I came back home just before 3am more than happy with what I’d seen.

Here, then, are some of the pictures I took this morning. The weather forecast for the next few days is pretty poor, so I think this might be it until July.

3 Responses

  1. That’s better! Well done Stu :o)

  2. I was out on Walney from around 11:45 until just before 1AM and didn’t see a thing. Looks like I packed it in just a bit too soon. I can’t believe this was actually my very first attempt to photograph NLCs when I’ve looked at them for years.

  3. brilliant pics Stu…

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