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WEATHER U: Glowing at the edge of space

It’s noctilucent cloud season and thanks to Bernice MacDonald of Antigonish, NS we get to enjoy this very rare display.   It was just before 10 pm Wednesday when she noticed these eerie electric-blue clouds rippling across the night sky. Some people refer to this phenomenon as a “geophysical light bulb.”
It’s noctilucent cloud season and thanks to Bernice MacDonald of Antigonish, NS we get to enjoy this very rare display. It was just before 10 p.m. Wednesday when she noticed these eerie electric-blue clouds rippling across the night sky. Some people refer to this phenomenon as a “geophysical light bulb.” - Contributed

I’ve been forecasting the weather and studying the science of the atmosphere for more than 30 years now. 

I’ve tracked, timed and talked about quite a range of weather events.  I’ve seen clouds and weather phenomena I thought I would only read about.  Still, there are a few things I have never seen with my own eyes.  One is noctilucent clouds.   

I was watching the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final Wednesday evening when I noticed an unusual number of emails and Facebook posts coming in. 

Curiosity got the best of me, so I had to check it out.  There they were – local photos of the elusive noctilucent clouds.  

By the time the game was over, I’m not sure if I was more excited about the Blues’ victory or the amazing pictures of the Earth’s highest clouds! 

Noctilucent clouds are rare. 

They form in the mesosphere, nearly 80 km – or 50 miles – about the Earth.  That layer is 100 million times dryer than air from the Sahara Desert. 

They are only visible during astronomical twilight. 

They have been visible across Canada and the northern U.S. for the past few days.  

They have a season that spans from early June through late July.  

Now that you know what to look for, and when, I wish you the best of luck and should you happen to see this elusive cloud-like phenomenon, be sure to take pictures! 



Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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