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2013 NLC Season Begins in a Blaze of Glory..!

nlc may 31 2013 pan-1s

Well, I wasn’t expecting that! Every year amateur astronomers – not all of us, have to be honest – turn into insomniacs and start to live the lives of vampires, as we stay up until oh my god o’clock hoping to catch a display of NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS. If you look up at the top of this page you’ll see a tab with “NLC” on it. Click that to be taken to  a complete guide to NLC. Basically, they are very, very high altitude clouds that catch the sunlight long after we’re in darkness down here on the ground.When all the other “normal” clouds we see in the sky have gone dark, NLC appear, shining a beautiful blue white. They look like a strange kind of sci fi special effect, a force field or energy field or something like that. Something painted or sprayed on the sky.  They only appear during summer,from very late May to the end of July, and then not every night, and most displays are quite modest affairs. Occasionally a display really goes nuts, and then the northern sky blazes with beautiful silvery and electric blue cloud. This usually happens late in the “season” tho. And until the middle of June we have to make do with quiet displays of a few lines and billows…

But on Thursday night the northern sky went crazy with NLC, and up at Kendal Castle I saw, and photographed, one of the best NLC displays for years… 🙂 Here are some of the pictures I took…

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Look at that…! That’s just nuts! We don’t usually see anything like that until the middle of June!

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NLC May 31 2013a

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Now, I’ve really enhanced and messed about with that last image to bring out the detail in the background sky. That level of detail wasn’t visible to the naked eye, but it was hinted at through binocs, and boosting the contrast of and sharpening that image has really brought out how the northern sky was saturated with NLC. What a night!

I watched that display from between 11.45 pm and about 01.30 the next morning, and I’m very pleased with those pictures. Tried again last night – lovely clear sky in the north – but nothing, absolutely nothing. Oh well, maybe tonight? The forecst is good…

Finally, the panorama you saw at the top of this post, but enhanced and sharpened and tweaked until it sobbed and begged for mercy, just to show the true extent of Thursday night’s display…

nlc may 31 2013 pan-1sharp enh