Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2016 July 9
Explanation: Bright noctilucent or night shining clouds are not familiar sights from northern France. But these electric-blue waves coursed through skies over the small town of Wancourt in Pas-de-Calais on July 6, just before the dawn. From the edge of space, about 80 kilometers above Earth’s surface, the icy clouds still reflect sunlight even though the Sun itself is below the horizon as seen from the ground. Usually spotted at high latitudes in summer months the diaphanous apparitions are also known as polar mesospheric clouds. The seasonal clouds are understood to form as water vapor driven into the cold upper atmosphere condenses on the fine dust particles supplied by disintegrating meteors or volcanic ash. NASA’s AIM mission provides projections of the noctilucent clouds as seen from space.
Moon near Jupiter again on July 9
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky’s popular Tonight pages since 2004. He’s a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.
Article originally published on EarthSky
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