Noctilucent cloud over Arthur's Seat

Duncan Waldron

Forest Lake, Australia

Artist's Description

Noctilucent Cloud (NLC) is a thin layer (1 km thick) of ice crystals at great altitude (about 85 km), illuminated by the sun after it has set at ground level. Seen only from temperate latitudes during the summer months – when the sun is between 6 and 16 degrees below the horizon (central Scotland & the southern highlands are almost ideal viewing locations), it appears as a pearly bluish effect, somewhat like cirrus. NLC was first recorded around 1885, and has been increasing ever since, although it is still only seen occasionally. Atmospheric methane gas is suspected to be one of the contributing factors to formation of NLC.

This image was taken on 21/22 June 1992 around midnight, with the sun at its lowest, and shows clearly the upper edge of the sunlit portion of NLC; above that, the NLC is still present, but in darkness. After midnight, with the sun approaching the horizon again, the sunlit portion increases until the sky becomes too bright to see it.

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Image Copyright Duncan Waldron © 2008
This image may not be reproduced without permission
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