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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 10 December, 2019
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You can spot rare glowing clouds formed by meteors over Ireland

These occur so high in the atmosphere that astronauts on the ISS can see them not too far below them.

You can spot rare glowing clouds formed by meteors over Ireland
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  • Noctilucent clouds

    Source: Seanie Morris
  • Noctilucent clouds

    Source: John McConnell
  • Noctilucent clouds

    Source: John McConnell
  • Noctilucent clouds

    Source: Seanie Morris
  • Noctilucent clouds

    Source: Paul Evans
  • Noctilucent clouds

    Source: Seanie Morris

FOR THE NEXT few weeks, if you head out past midnight and look towards the northern horizon, you might be lucky enough to spot this elusive weather phenomenon.

Noctilucent clouds occur as high as 83 kilometres up in the atmosphere, so high that astronauts on the International Space Station can easily spot them.

For us here on Earth, they can be seen with the naked eye for a few weeks either side of the summer solstice as a glowing electric-blue lattice.

These clouds consist of ice crystals, the formation of which was sparked by lingering meteor dust.

“These clouds are of little notice to many as they appear after local midnight during this time, but it is something that only a small percentage of the world’s population can claim to see,” Seanie Morris, chairperson of the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies, said.

This is because they can only be seen between latitudes 50 and 70 degrees north or south, in summer or winter respectively.

These clouds have only been observed after super-volcano Krakatoa erupted in the late 1800s, which expelled thousands of tonnes of ash into the atmosphere and caused global temperatures to drop by more than a degree.

Last year, noctilucent clouds appeared earlier than ever recorded.

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About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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