These are the highest clouds on the planet

A satellite photographed a rare type of high-altitude cloud over Antarctica on Jan. 17, 2024.

You see them as thin clouds streaming across the black space in the middle of the animation.

These are rare mesospheric clouds occupying part of the sky that typically can’t form clouds. Their altitude around 30-50 miles above Earth’s surface is too dry to have enough water for traditional clouds in the boundary called the mesosphere.

The low-level clouds between the thin black outline of the horizon and the boundary line of the Antarctic continent at the bottom left are ordinary clouds in the low part of the atmosphere.

So how did the mesospheric clouds get so high in the sky?

They formed out of ice crystals that glaze around tiny particles of dust and meteor smoke. Volcanoes can also possibly inject water vapor moisture to extreme heights.

When viewed from the ground, they are called noctilucent or night-shining clouds. Chances are you won’t ever see them over Jacksonville except during rocket launches. You can see the pictures from a 2021 SpaceX launch here.

Noctilucent clouds are most easily seen in the summer from high latitudes, such as Scandinavia, Alaska, and Canada. They are also sometimes visible from the northern United States and Europe.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.