Astronomy Picture of the Day

Night-Shining Clouds

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Night-Shining Clouds


Alluring noctilucent
or night-shining clouds lie near the edge of space,
some 80 kilometers above Earth's surface.

Of course, when viewed from space the clouds are more properly called
polar mesospheric clouds (PMCs) --
seen here for the first time
in image data from the
of Ice in the Mesosphere
(AIM) satellite.

The clouds form over the poles in the corresponding
summer season and are now being
seen more
at lower latitudes.

This paticular view from June 11 details the PMC structures forming
over the north polar region in white and blue.

(Black indicates no cloud data was available.)

The AIM satellite should be able to track two complete cloud
seasons over both poles to investigate possible connections between
the high altitude night-shining clouds and
global change in the lower

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