Rare glow-in-the-dark clouds are seen in the upper United States, Canada and Europe

Rare glow-in-the-dark clouds are seen in the upper United States, Canada and Europe

The rarest clouds on Earth were spotted by skywatchers in parts of the western United States, Europe and Canada over the weekend, a dynamic display that does not hasn’t been seen for about 15 years.

Known as noctilucent, these clouds glowed stunning blue in the sky just after the sun moved below the horizon.

Reports of strange clouds came from Oregon, Washington, Alberta, the UK and Denmark.

Noctilescent clouds (NLC) form in the mesosphere, which is found at altitudes of around 50 miles, making them the highest in Earth’s atmosphere.

Clouds are made up of ice crystals that become visible at dusk when the sun shines above the horizon.

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The rarest clouds on Earth were spotted by skywatchers in parts of the western United States, Europe and Canada over the weekend and this is the first time that they have been seen for about 15 years.  Pictured are clouds over London

The rarest clouds on Earth were spotted by skywatchers in parts of the western United States, Europe and Canada over the weekend and this is the first time that they have been seen for about 15 years. Pictured are clouds over London

“There really is nothing else quite like them,” the National Weather Service office in Seattle wrote on social media, noting that these are “the most vivid displays of noctilescent clouds” that have been observed for decades in the region.

Clouds usually form in late spring and early summer when the lower atmosphere warms up.

Atmospheric circulation pushes air upwards, which expands and cools.

Water vapor is trapped in clouds, freezes into ice crystals and forms meteoric dust.

Known as noctilucent, these clouds glowed stunning blue in the sky just after the sun moved below the horizon.  Reports of strange clouds came from Oregon, Washington, Alberta, the UK and Denmark (pictured)

Known as noctilucent, these clouds glowed stunning blue in the sky just after the sun moved below the horizon. Reports of strange clouds came from Oregon, Washington, Alberta, the UK and Denmark (pictured)

Noctilescent clouds (NLC) form in the mesosphere, which is found at altitudes of around 50 miles, making them the highest in Earth's atmosphere.  Image shows Seattle, Washington

Noctilescent clouds (NLC) form in the mesosphere, which is found at altitudes of around 50 miles, making them the highest in Earth’s atmosphere. Image shows Seattle, Washington

Clouds appear with electric blue and silver streaks and are usually spotted at latitudes of 45 and 80 degrees in the northern and southern hemispheres.

And the amazing spectacle can even be seen from space, as astronauts aboard the International Space Station have shared images of the phenomenon.

Some believe that climate change is also contributing to their development and even to them being seen at latitudes never seen before.

For example, in 2019 they were seen as far south as Joshua Tree, California, suggesting that with more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, there is more water vapor available for as glowing clouds form.

Cora Randall, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, told the Washington Post that the increase in clouds could be due to excess water vapor in the atmosphere during rocket launches.

Another study suggests that the occurrence of NLCs fluctuates from year to year and even decade to decade, but that overall they have become “significantly” more visible.

In 2020, a photographer shared a stunning image of the phenomenon in the wee hours of the morning that gave a 12th-century church a ghostly glow.

Ollie Taylor, an astrophotographer, captured ‘bright night’ clouds that lit up the night sky over South West England with dramatic streaks of blue and silver.

Clouds appear with electric blue and silver streaks and are usually spotted at latitudes of 45 and 80 degrees in the northern and southern hemispheres.  Pictured, Alberta, Canada

Clouds appear with electric blue and silver streaks and are usually spotted at latitudes of 45 and 80 degrees in the northern and southern hemispheres. Pictured, Alberta, Canada

On June 22, Taylor set out on a mission to capture the brilliant clouds at night in Dorset, which is on the south coast of England.

He arrived at Knowlton Church in the middle of a Neolithic monument and began photographing the scene from 2am to 2.50am.

“It was a great night of filming, arriving on location in the evening already greeted by noctilucent clouds better than I had seen before in the south of England,” Taylor said.

“Electric blue complemented the hazy landscape and eerie structure.”

Taylor tracked the clouds using a combination of different sources, including space weather updates, webcam observations and a Facebook group, according to the European Space Agency.

In 2020 a photographer shared a stunning image of the phenomenon in the early morning hours which gave a 12th century church a ghostly glow (pictured)

In 2020 a photographer shared a stunning image of the phenomenon in the early morning hours which gave a 12th century church a ghostly glow (pictured)

Noctilescent clouds were first described in the mid-19th century after the eruption of Krakatau.

Volcanic ash blasted through the atmosphere, creating vivid sunsets around the world and prompting the first known sightings of NLC.

At first people thought it was a side effect of the volcano, but long after Krakatau’s ash had settled, the wispy, glowing clouds remained.

WHAT ARE NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS (WHICH GLOW AT NIGHT)?

Noctilescent clouds, also called polar mesospheric clouds, form between 47 and 53 miles above the Earth’s surface (76-85 km), according to NASA.

Here, water vapor freezes into clouds of ice crystals, which light up when the sun is below the horizon.

They are seeded with disintegrating meteor debris, which gives them a “shocking” blue hue when they reflect sunlight.

Clouds form during the summer of the northern and southern hemispheres.

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