North East Summertime Aurora

North East Stargazers Prepare for ‘Summertime Aurora’

Stargazers across the North East and beyond will be able to spot rare ‘summertime aurora’ over the summer

The ethereal phenomena, noctilucent clouds, exist in the upper atmosphere of the Earth and are visible during the summer months after sunset.

Director of Astrophotography at Kielder Observatory, in Northumberland, Dan Monk is preparing to capture the glowing clouds. They will appear from mid-May to early August.

“Noctilucent clouds are the only type of cloud astronomers like to see. It’s because it has to be a clear night to see them,” he said. 

“They produce striking, shimmery silver colours across the sky. They’re a lovely thing to see and we sometimes refer to them as the summertime aurora. I’m always excited to see them and they’re beautiful things to photograph!”

North East Summertime Aurora

How ‘Summertime Aurora’ in the North East is Formed

The phenomena are the highest clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere. As high as 50 miles above the surface! They occupy the area of the atmosphere known as the mesosphere. Tiny particles of meteor dust form the foundation for the production of ice crystals.

Said Dan: 

“In summertime, the mesosphere is actually cooler than in winter, which is why noctilucent clouds are able to form. Another reason they are only visible in summer is due to the position of the sun being close enough to the horizon where it illuminates them from underneath. They are typically only visible between latitudes between 45° and 65°, making the North East and the rest of the UK an ideal place to see them.”