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…and the NLC Summer of Glory continues…

Oh… wow

Last night was just fantastic. Another great display of noctilucent clouds lit up the northern sky above Kendal. The pictures I took are… well, I’ll show you those in a few minutes.

This is something exceptional, this NLC season, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be, not how it’s supposed to work. We’re MEANT to spend June growling and shaking our fists at the sky in frustration as weak and wishy-washy displays of noctilucent clouds appear after midnight, promising much but delivering little. We drag our way through June until July arrives and then we get some good displays, which make all the cruddy June nights worth it. Then we go back down the hill and watch NLC activity decrease until the curtain comes down at the start of August.

But this year’s season opened with an ear-shattering fanfare, and there have already been three really good displays. This is fantastic, obviously, and we’re all now wondering just how good can it get..? Are we going to see some sky-filling displays? Can’t wait to find out…

So, anyway, last night. As I walked home from work at about ten twenty pm, I looked at the northern sky and, you know, it just looked promising. I’ve thought a few times before NLC displays that the post sunset northern sky looked odd, kind of washed with a silvery light, like there was a torch shining behind the sky. I might be totally wrong about this, I might just be using hindsight to add two and two and get ten, but I don’t know… as I walked home my NLC spidey senses were definitely tingling, and an hour later, as I headed up to the Castle, lookimg at the northern sky I was pretty sure I could see faint, tantalising hints of NLC pushing through the twilight…

Up at the castle I set up my camera and took a test shot, and this is what i saw…

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Oh yes! game on!!

That was around 23.30 BST, and I stayed up there until 03.00 BST Sunday morning. Between those two times I watched the NLC rise and fall, brighten and fade, shift and shimmer. I filled my camera’s memory card. I had not one, not two but THREE camera batteries die on me, and I only managed to get to the end of the display by swapping over the batteries and coaxing the last drips of power out of them. I was very, very lucky.

Well, lucky with the batteries, I wasn’t lucky to see the display. I saw that because I put in the effort. I watched the sky, looked for hints of NLC in the glow, monitored Twitter for reports from other, more northerly and easterly observers, then headed up to a viewing location which would offer me a good view if anything actually happened. That’s not luck, that’s preparation, and it’s what you have to do if you’re going to see something special and amazing in the night sky.

After midnight I was joined up at the castle by my regular observing partner and fellow EAS member Carol Grayson, and it was great seeing the NLC in the company of someone who hadn’t seen a major display like that. I’m looking forward to seeing the photos she took. Her camera is much better and fancier than mine!

But mine’s ok, and it really did me a favour by not dying completely last night so here, then, are the best photos I took last night and into this morning. I hope you like them.

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Awww, I love that… my castle, and NLC… what more could you want?

Well, how about a panorama of the castle and NLC..?

castle pan

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20 storm enhanced

The photo above has been enhanced to bring out the colour and structure of the display…

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Above: as 03.00 approached, and birds started singing, the NLC were still visible, though dimming as dawn approached. By now the NLC looked like the ghostly trail of a fireball, or a nuclear test, it was a wonderful sight.

Finally, one last panorama showing the display at around 02.00…

pano 2

Very tired now, but the gritty eyes and endless yawns are a small price to pay for seeing something so beautiful, they really are.

Will another display appear tonight? My fingers are crossed..!

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2 Responses

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