July 10, 2014 3:51 pm

WATCH: Rare clouds captured dancing over London, England

Noctilucent clouds, imaged by Chris Hadfield on January 6, 2013, while he was aboard the International Space Station

Image courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center

TORONTO – An astronomer out of England who was able to capture rare clouds over London this week is getting a lot of attention.

The clouds he managed to record – called noctilucent clouds or NLCs – are a rare phenomenon, especially in a metropolis like London.

The astrophotographer, Christoph Malin, said that he walked out of a pub in London, looked up and saw the clouds dancing in the distance.

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“Did I have too much beers? No. Noctilucent Clouds on the North Horizon,” he wrote in his Vimeo description. He also writes that he was fortunate to catch them again the next night.

London Noctilucent Mesospheric Clouds from Christoph Malin on Vimeo.

READ MORE: Season of rare, silvery-blue nighttime clouds is upon us

NLCs were first noticed in the high latitudes in the mid-19th century, after the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano in Indonesia.

Astronomers believe that NLCs are becoming visible more often below the 40th and 50th parallels.

Summer is the prime season for catching these rare clouds, as water molecules are brought up from the lower atmosphere to mix with “smoke” left over from small meteoroids that enter our atmosphere.

Some scientists believe that the increase of methane in our atmosphere is the reason that NLCs are becoming visible from more southerly latitudes. The methane forms water vapour and then allows ice crystals to form high up in our atmosphere – about 80 km up – creating beautiful displays of these shimmering, silvery clouds.

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