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What were these glowing clouds in the skies of Suffolk?

PUBLISHED: 11:44 22 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:44 22 June 2020

These noctilucent clouds were spotted over Suffolk on June 21. The clouds glow in the night sky, with noctilucent translating roughly from Latin as 'night shining' Picture: NEIL NORMAN

These noctilucent clouds were spotted over Suffolk on June 21. The clouds glow in the night sky, with noctilucent translating roughly from Latin as 'night shining' Picture: NEIL NORMAN

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Glowing clouds illuminated the skies of Suffolk last night - did you see them?

Suffolk astronomer Neil Norman captured these pictures near Hadleigh Picture: NEIL NORMANSuffolk astronomer Neil Norman captured these pictures near Hadleigh Picture: NEIL NORMAN

Suffolk astronomer Neil Norman spotted the noctilucent clouds in the sky near Hadleigh after sunset on June 21.

As you can see from the pictures, the clouds appear to glow a pale blue colour just above the horizon.

They often form bands across the sky, but may also appear with waves or whirls.

The clouds are so faint they cannot be seen in daylight and have to be illuminated by the sun once it has dipped below the horizon.

Mr Norman said it was unusual for the clouds to be so visible in Suffolk, adding: “These will be seen all over the county but last night’s display was the best I’ve ever seen.

“The clouds can only ever bee seen in the northern-facing part of the sky too.”

What are noctilucent clouds?

These clouds are a rare combination of water vapour and dust in the sky, which can only be seen at certain times in certain months of the year - and only at certain places on earth.

In the northern hemisphere, they can be seen between a latitude of 50 and 65 degrees, so could be visible in the skies above all of the UK, parts of western Europe and the southern parts of Canada and Russia.

The clouds only form in our hemisphere between May and August.

They are visible at ‘astronomical twilight’ – two short periods each day after sunset and before dawn.

Due to all of these conditions, the clouds may form more often than they are seen.

The clouds are about 50 miles high in the atmosphere, higher than any other cloud.

They also need to form at very low temperatures, below -120C.

Do you think you have seen noctilucent clouds in Suffolk or Essex? If you are happy to share your pictures, email us or message us on Facebook.


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