Sunday, December 02, 2007

Wonders Never Cease...

While stumbling through the internet in the 'Astronomy' search mod, I came across a phenomena known as "noctilucent clouds" or NLC's for short. this is a phenomena where the clouds form in the mesosphere of the earth at altitudes of between 80 to 100 km in height (essentially it is on the border between space and the workable edge of the Earth's atmosphere). The picture shows a view of some of these clouds as seen from Earth after the sun has already set and as such they are only visible because they are so high that the observer is on the non-sunlit portion of the Earth while the sun is still able to illuminate these clouds from around the curvature of the Earth's surface. Here are some links that may help for those with a bit more than the average curiosity:

[1] Noctilucent Clouds (Wikipedia article)

[2] NASA Article : Strange Clouds

[3] Video Clips (copyrighted) of NLC's

Some of the speculation is that the possible causes are due to meteoric dust that the Earth sweeps up as it rotates and revolves around the Sun (since the particles are just the right size for proper nucleation to occur) while others speculate that it may be an indication of global warming. These clouds seem to have first been noticed shortly after the eruption of Krakatoa whose eruptions of gas and dust caused spectacular sunsets for decades after words. I tend to ask if there might not be a correlation which is demonstrable between the first noticing of such clouds and the upsurge in the industrial revolution. I never have been one for coincidences so I think further investigation is very much warranted. At least for my readers, enjoy the pictures... they are spectacularly beautiful.

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