Noctilucent clouds form when meteor dust mixes with millions of ice particles in the sky.

What happens when you mix meteor dust and ice?

Noctilucent clouds high above the Earth's surface are a summer phenomenon.

What are noctilucent clouds? While the name does sound rather apocalyptic, these cloud formations are actually a globally treasured phenomenon. Here is why.

During the summer, 80 kilometres above the Earth’s surface (what is known as the mesosphere), two components meet, forming noctilucent clouds.

It is really quite spectacular. Imagine meteor dust mixing with millions of ice particles in the sky and being illuminated by the light of the sun. You get a mystical, surreal glow. However, the occurrence is pretty rare, but with some patience, you will be able to see several displays each summer.

Luckily, according to data from a research satellite, the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM), the occurrence of noctilucent clouds is increasing. This is due to a decrease in atmospheric temperatures, a cooling trend. The AIM has also revealed that noctilucent clouds are becoming increasingly visible throughout Canada and even in some northern states of America.

The ideal time to see the clouds is from 11 p.m. to midnight, and between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. They only appear from mid-June to mid-July, so when the moment comes, don’t let it go to waste; keep a camera on hand.

If you’re photography-savvy, here are some tips for capturing your postcard image of the magnificent light show:

Ensure your digital camera has a shutter speed of at least one second to 10 seconds. Set your ISO to about 400, depending on the amount of light, and remember to use a tripod to keep the image crisp. Not only is it exciting to see these extraordinary clouds, is a great way to make your summer vacation memorable. So, while you are out camping with friends and family, just remember to look up.

You can share your images on one of the NLC database websites such as the Noctilucent Cloud Observing Network (www.ed-co.net/nlcnet) or Spaceweather (www.spaceweather.com).

For more information about noctilucent clouds, contact Mark Zalcik at bgg_skymerchant@hotmail.com

Kate Lemke

Noctilucent clouds

 

 

Just Posted

Semiahmoo students to raise awareness about acid throwing

The Grade 11 students are to host a fundraiser for victims

Maritimers bring taste of Atlantic Ocean to South Surrey

Maritime Seafoods owner says they cut out the middleman

VIDEO: Surrey Vaisakhi Parade floods Newton streets

Hundreds of thousands of people attended the annual event

Easter ‘eggstravaganza’ event planned for South Surrey

Event is to run from 12-3 p.m. at Dufferin Park (17355 2 Ave.).

Four Surrey students head to New Brunswick for Canada-wide science fair

Three projects move to nationals following regional fair at KPU

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Police say ‘no major incidents’ at 4/20, Vancouver Park Board assessing

The first smoke-out held since legalization saw 60,000 people at Vancouver’s Sunset Beach

VIDEO: Langley firefighters spend hours battling blaze in vacant home

Cause of the late-night fire in Willoughby is still under investigation

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

RCMP looking for witnesses to four-vehicle crash in Burnaby

Police suspect impaired driving was a contributing factor

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Most Read