June 13, 2016 11:52 am
Updated: June 20, 2016 4:36 pm

Be on the lookout for stunning, rare nighttime noctilucent clouds

Noctilucent clouds were spotted about 2 hours north of Toronto in 2011.

Courtesy Blake Nancarrow

The nighttime sky has many wonders, but perhaps none quite as beautiful as noctilucent clouds.

These rare clouds used to be spotted at extremely northern latitudes. However, recent studies have shown that the clouds have been visible further south, between the 40th and 50th parallel. Canada is known to be at the 49th parallel, with southern Ontario dipping below the 45th.

With noctilucent clouds, as with the northern lights, the further north you are, the better chance you have at catching them.

READ MORE: Rare, shimmering nighttime clouds on the rise, NASA says

This is good news for Canadians, meaning we have a better chance than most of catching them.

Noctilucent clouds are also called polar mesospheric clouds. These electric-blue clouds aren’t completely understood, but scientists believe that as the lower atmosphere warms (ie. summer) the upper atmosphere gets cooler and ice crystals form on meteor dust (as we are constantly getting bombarded with fine meteor dust) and other particles about 80 to 85 km above Earth.

The best time to catch these stunning clouds is in late spring and early summer. Specifically, you’ll want to look at the northern sky about 30 to 60 minutes after sunset or before sunrise as beams of sunlight reflect off ice crystals in the upper atmosphere.

Most recently, they’ve been visible across parts of northern Europe.

WATCH: Real Time Video Of Noctilucent Clouds Over Nykøbing Mors| 13.06.16

They’ve even been spotted from the International Space Station.

Noctilucent clouds were first recorded after the massive volcanic eruption of Mount Krakatoa in 1883. Though it was believed that they were connected with the eruption, they have continued and have been on the rise.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.