Before dawn on May 4/5th I decided to go outside in the hope of catching a few Eta-Aquarid meteors. As soon as I stepped out into the night I spotted a strange eerie glow between my neigbour's houses. I thought to myself, that looks like NLCs. So I walked to a good vantage point on an elevated position for a better view. The entire N to NE sky was glowing a bright electric blue colour!, - classic NLCs. This was a an extensive veil of type 3 (?) brightness and extending 80 degrees in azimuth and 10 degrees high. There may have been scattered IIa bands but it was difficult to be certain due to thin dark wisps of Tropospheric cloud. The display was visible from 03.45 - 04.15 BST until morning twilight washed it from the sky. That strong blue glow was unmistakable. I was shocked as this is very early in the season indeed, my first sightning during the 2007 season was on May 17th but this is the earliest I have seen them to date. I would be interested in any other sightings. I managed to get a few images before my battery died.
Thanks very much Mark. The season has begun indeed, a friend of mine spotted another display on the evening of the 5/6th. Will post image later.
Its excellent news Martin - an early start to the season!!! I look forward to the pic.
In theory we have clear skies for a couple of nights (certainly here in the West Midlands anyway, I think you guys further north have been more fortunate of late) - scope will be out tonight, as will the camera, so aswell as a bit of astronomy i'll also be keeping a keen eye out for some NLC's too
Great pics!! Glad the season's starting early this year but if they're gonna appear at that time I'll never see anything lol, I can't stay up so late anymore tho I might tonight as I'm off work tomorrow. Fingers crossed!! ;D
Please don't interupt me when I'm talking to myself!
Hello, I hate to have to say this but I don't seen any NLC here. What is happening is an optical illusion caused by the lower level clouds causing the background light to look like bands within a veil. The nice bright colour is due to clear air to the north of the observer but it isn't an NLC. Sorry. Bill.
With respect, those are 100% NLC. Keep in mind that an image does not tell the full story. I observed these NLCs visually throughout the period and the sky was GLOWING ELECTRIC BLUE. There have been two other NLC reports from The N. UK during the 5th and 6th period to back up the NLC activity. I am absolutely confident that these are real early season NLCs. Has anyone considered the recent volcanic eruption?
Thanks Mark for the SW Link. Tony Philips informed me that the images were checked out by the AIM team.
I have been getting a number of nice but also nasty emails sent to my site regarding these NLCs. I will be frank - if anyone cannot see NLCs on those two images then they are not very experienced at observing the more elusive early and late season displays. Take it or leave it folks, I'm not going to be wasting my time trying to 'convince' anyone about something I saw with my own eyes. I'm not referring to you Bill but to the others out there who are currently doing the rounds.
Hello, I do consider myself to have considerable experience in NLC observations and I also agree that pictures do not often tell the whole story. Since my first observation of NLC in 1986 I've seen them in many forms. Sky colour alone is not necessarily proof and neither are other reports if they happen to be seeing the same (non NLC) effect but as with all things you need to stand by your observations! If you believe that there NLC's were present you SHOULD be trying to convince others as that is what science is about. More pictures, point out the features, identify the structures etc. I'm just trying to be scientifically objective, nothing more. We'll just need to agree to disagree. If one disagrees, as I do in this case, then anyone and everyone is entitled to express an opinion. However the record there is no need whatsoever for anyone to be nasty. I hope these nasty emails you refer to are not from forum members We're supposed to be doing this this for a bit of fun! cheers, Bill.
Many thanks for your understanding reply. I do agree with everything you said and I know you are a very experienced NLC observer. The emails are not from here, just from other parts of the world from what I assume to be angry jealous observers.
I do stand fullly behind my observation otherwise I would not have reported it myself. My good friend John McConnell (who observed NLCs on the 6th) has been observing NLCs since the 1960's, he noticed the NLCs immediately on the image. Another observer from the Shetlands reported a visual sighting on the morning of the 6th.
I have had an email from Lon Riesberg of Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Boulder, Colorado who operate the CIPS imager on the AIM satellite that is looking for NLCs from above. At present they have not seen any NLC in the data for this year however they have not finished processing the data yet - they hope to have this done and the images on the web site by Monday.
Wow, this is turning out to be a pretty hot topic!
One thing that I think is important here is that the forum is serving a good purpose - I suspect in the time it's been running there's been more global discussion about NLCs going on than quite possibly has gone before - regardless of outcome this is a good thing!