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Not so dark skies

Posted on 23 May, 2016 at 9:50

Beautiful Glen Canisp is one of two “Dark Sky Discovery” sites in Assynt, a place where the night sky can be viewed without any light pollution. Glen Canisp has “Milky Way Status” – the highest accolade.

This means that there is so little light pollution here that the entire Milky Way can be seen when the skies are clear, and what a stunning sight it is!

 

At the moment our sun is just passing the peak of “solar maximum” – the time in the sun’s cycle when we are most likely to see the Aurora, or Northern Lights. Aurora season was amazing this winter despite us having passed the peak of solar activity, with the lights visible on many nights. We are unlikely to see them again until after autumn however, as the summer night skies are too light.

 

However, another amazing phenomena is about to be visible from our northern skies - Noctilucent Clouds. Noctilucent clouds, or “Night Shining Clouds” are tenuous cloud-like phenomena that are the ragged edge of a much brighter and pervasive polar cloud layer called polar mesospheric clouds in the upper atmosphere, visible in a deep twilight. They are made of crystals of water ice. Noctilucent roughly means night shining in Latin. These clouds are little known to the public, but are absolutely stunning to see.

 

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