As­tral phe­nom­ena

There are other af­ter-dark marvels out there…

NPhoto - - Feature -

Some­times, you’re pre­sented with some­thing un­ex­pected. A highly un­usual and pe­cu­liar set of at­mo­spheric cir­cum­stances come to­gether to re­sult in what can only be de­scribed as a phe­nom­ena.

By their very na­ture, these more un­usual phe­nom­ena are dif­fi­cult to pre­dict and plan for. It be­comes more a case of be­ing in the right place at the right time – but of course the more you’re out and about in the small hours, the more lucky you’re likely to be! Here are some of the phe­nom­ena

and what causes them…

Zo­di­a­cal Light

Zo­di­a­cal light – or False Dawn – is a phe­nom­e­non of tri­an­gu­lar light that em­anates high into the at­mos­phere. These come from the di­rec­tion of sun­rise or sun­set and can be caught dur­ing twi­light and the first hours of dark­ness dur­ing the evening in the spring equinox, and dawn in the au­tumn equinox. It takes in­cred­i­bly clear skies for miles into the hori­zon, and an ele­ment of luck to catch this stun­ning spec­ta­cle. The sun­light re­flects off par­ti­cles of ice, and in­ter­plan­e­tary dust within the plane of the so­lar sys­tem, called cos­mic dust.

Noc­tilu­cent Clouds

Noc­tilu­cent clouds are made of dust par­ti­cles in ice crys­tals and only vis­i­ble in deep twi­light. Best viewed at mid-north­ern lat­i­tudes (50-65 de­grees) in the lin­ger­ing sum­mer nau­ti­cal twi­light.

Nacre­ous Clouds

Nacre­ous – or Mother of Pearl – clouds are made up of ice crys­tals high up in the strato­sphere (15 to 25km) re­flect­ing sun­set caus­ing this amaz­ing phe­nom­ena.

The clouds are colour­ful by ap­pear­ance and can last for hours be­fore sun­set, and into twi­light, some­times danc­ing and shim­mer­ing like au­rora.

They’re also ex­tremely rare. To be in with a chance of shoot­ing such an un­usual oc­cur­rence, you will need to be sit­u­ated within mid-to-high lat­i­tude lo­ca­tions, and the strato­sphere tem­per­a­ture must be -78°C or colder. But once seen, Mother of Pearl clouds will never be for­got­ten!

Lu­nar Halo

This op­ti­cal phe­nom­ena is caused by ice crys­tals sus­pended in the at­mos­phere at a cer­tain an­gle to the moon, and can be seen on cold, clear nights when the moon is full.

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