Brian's "Picture of the Week"

IMAGE: Noctilucent Clouds

Noctilucent Clouds [More] are rather illusive and can be quite dramatic to see. This image was taken while airborne at 36,000 feet from the Atlantic ocean, just east of Newfoundland, Canada (N49, W048). They are extremely high altitude seasonal clouds over the polar regions of Earth. They are very thin, like Cirrus Clouds, but are so faint that they are never visible in the day. At an altitude of approximately 50 miles, they can become visible long after the sun has set since they are still in bright direct sunlight and the sky locally has dimmed sufficiently enough. They are called "Noctilucent" because they shine a bluish-white while it is locally dark with stars visible above. From the northern hemisphere they are only visible between late May and early August of every year. Ideally, you should also be north of about 50'N latitude. 0510 GMT, Monday 3 July 2006. [800x600]

Interestingly, there has been some research to suggest that the Space Shuttle rocket exhaust contributes water vapour to this upper area of the atmosphere, and thus should increase Noctilucent Cloud sightings. Will the July 4th launch cause a greater amount of NLC activity?

Photo: (c) 2006 Brian Whittaker (.com)  

Mentioned only as a tragic comedy, this image was taken on my return from attempting to watch the Space Shuttle's unsuccessful launch on July 1st. This attempt now marks over 25 years of me personally trying to watch a Space Shuttle launch, each and every time unsuccessfully.