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The beauty of the Nacreous Clouds

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posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 08:52 AM
If there's one kind of cloud that impress me above all, it's really the Nacreous Clouds, that are wonderful as much as they are rare.

Whereas they should be visible only in high latitude (hence their name "Polar Stratospheric Clouds"), it appears that they sometimes can be visible from UK: they have been visible over England at least twice since 1996...

Pictures: Oliver Lemke -
Source: Satellite Atmospheric Science Group

Nacreous clouds, sometimes called mother-of-pearl clouds, are rare but once seen are never forgotten. They are mostly visible within two hours after sunset or before dawn when they blaze unbelievably bright with vivid and slowly shifting iridescent colours. They are filmy sheets slowly curling and uncurling, stretching and contracting in the semi-dark sky. Compared with dark scudding low altitude clouds that might be present, nacreous clouds stand majestically in almost the same place - an indicator of their great height.

Source: Atoptics

They need the very frigid regions of the lower stratosphere some 15 - 25 km (9 -16 mile) high and well above tropospheric clouds. They are so bright after sunset and before dawn because at those heights they are still sunlit.

Nacreous Clouds over Antarctica Imaged by Cherie Ude at McMurdo Base in 2004. Nacreous clouds glow brightly with vivid iridescent colours. They are wave clouds and their undulating sheet-like forms reveal the winds and waves of the stratosphere

They are seen mostly during winter at high latitudes like Scandinavia, Iceland, Alaska and Northern Canada. Sometimes, however, they occur as far south as England. They can be less rare downwind of mountain ranges. Elsewhere their appearance is often associated with severe tropospheric winds and storms.

Nacreous clouds far outshine and have much more vivid colours than ordinary iridescent clouds which are very much poor relations and seen frequently all over the world.

Source: Atoptics


PSCs/Nacreous Clouds are classified into three types Ia, Ib and II according to their chemical composition.

- Type I clouds contain nitric acid and water.
- Type Ia clouds consist of crystals formed from nitric acid and water.
- Type Ib cloud droplets additionally contain sulfuric acid and are present in the form of supercooled ternary solution.
- Type II clouds consist of water ice only.

More explanations and photos at:
- Atoptics 1
- Atoptics 2
- Atoptics 3
- Atoptics 4: Nacreous clouds from high altitude
- Wiki page

edit on 4-7-2012 by elevenaugust because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 08:54 AM
Beautiful, very surreal, thanks OP.

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 11:47 AM
That is awesome! I live in the states and never knew anything like those clouds occurred. I mean, their gorgeous. I wish I could give you more flags and stars, but the mouse won't click for me
Awesome post

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 12:00 PM
Those are simply amazing!

The picture with the 'Rocket Trail' caught my eye.

Apparently, Nacreous Clouds can also be created by rocket trails which i found pretty interesting.

Caption: View of a spectacular nocti-lucent cloud after sunset. This cloud was formed from the exhaust of a missile launched from a distant firing range. Noctilucent clouds are those which reflect the Sun's light after it has set, which requires that they be at high altitude.

The uppermost parts of this cloud are iridescent (nacreous), having the appearance of mother-of- pearl. Natural nacreous clouds occur at altitudes of 20-25 kilometres. The lower parts of this cloud are redder due to the scattering of blue light by the large amount of dust and water in the lower atmosphere. Its convoluted shape is due to the differing wind speeds at different altitudes. Source

Thank you for posting!
edit on 4-7-2012 by Jeedawg because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 02:15 PM
All I can say is yikes!!!!!

I've never seen anything like them.....not the kind of thing you'd forget.
I've seen similar in the winter months...but they are so bizarre as to look unreal.

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 04:37 PM

Originally posted by DontTreadOnMe
I've seen similar in the winter months...but they are so bizarre as to look unreal.

Maybe you saw a noctilucent cloud? Different in its appearance:

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 05:32 PM
reply to post by elevenaugust

Yes, those are the ones I'm familiar with.
They alwasy remind me of cold and icy weather.

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