My 2006 NLC Observations

A brief summary of my 2006 NLC observations from May - August 2006 which has been the best NLC season to date in which I logged 34 displays. Was the frequency of these incredible bright complex shows unique? I guess we will not know until further analysis has been complete. These are short extracts from an astronomical forum I visited at the time. Visit my 2005/2007 and 2007 NLC Galleries.

May 25/26th

Last night I got my very first display of Noctilucent clouds in 2006! My sister and I were walking in the country before dawn when at 02.45 BST we spotted a very faint, diffuse white glowing NLC formation very low near the horizon stretching from the N to NE sky through sections of Auriga, Perseus and Pisces. Type 1 brightness and type 1 Veil structure. The brightening dawn sky soon washed them out. I got my images up on the UK NLC homepage where I noticed that another observer from England also seen a possible display at night fall. Got two images at ISO 200 /5 sec exposure.

May 26/27th

The sky was overcast last night but my instincts told me to get out of the house and go for a walk to the bottom of the country road to check the sky before retiring to bed - I am glad I did because at 02.50 BST I seen a very bright Noctilucent cloud display only 3* above the northern horizon in the form of a brightly glowing white bar 15* long mostly obscured by clouds. This was a very bright display (type 4) and was clearly the most eye catching phenomena in the sky. At 03.05 it was covered by clouds so I only got a few not so good images. I got stopped by a car full of partygoers who lived nearby asking me what I was doing...they said I as mad lol. I spent the rest of the morning in a field waiting for the clouds to part but ended the session at 03.40. Type 1 or 0? structure. My 2nd display of the season. I'm hoping these last two sightings are a sign of brighter displays to come. Two observers from England last night also seen possible NLC's.

May 30/1st

I caught them here at 00.30 BST located very low in the north only 5* above the horizon. The display was a vivid white type 2 band structure of type 2 brightness extending 15* long and partially obscured by dark clouds on its western flank. A nice display.

This was a sneaky one. Conor and I spotted this very faint (type 1) Noctilucent cloud display last night from the banks of the Moyola River from 00.00 - 01.30 BST. It was only 5* above the northern horizon and was a type 1 delicate white veil structure within Auriga. Capella is the bright star on the image. Thanks to John Mc Connell and Tom Mc Ewan for their feed back on the image and confirming its presence. Last night there was six observations of NLC's from England, Scotland and Germany with one display reaching 15* in height which is the tallest so far this season. Keep an eye out every clear night for the larger brighter displays which will soon arrive.

June 1/2nd

For the third night in a row I was treated to a nice NLC display from 01.30 - 02.00 BST. This is the longest display I have seen so far this season were the glowing white / green type 2 veils could be seen extending 40* in length through Auriga and Perseus with fine structure near the 'Demon Star'. The display was of type 2 brightness and 7* above the northern horizon. I have a feeling that this display will signal more complex activity to come in the days ahead. All images ISO 200 / 10- 15 sec exposure.

June 2/3rd

This was the fourth night in a row of NLC's and it was the best display that I have ever seen to date. Visible from 00.00 - 04.00 BST (there were faint sightings after sunset) and spanning 125* in length from the north - east sky through Auriga, Perseus, Andromeda and Pegasus of type 4 - 5 brightness. It reached + 30* in height and sported vivid orange / yellow colours near the horizon with pearly white and blue further up. A wide range of structure = types IIB, IVc,V and O - bands, waves, knots, kinks and fish gill patterns all at the same time! I was amazed to see the display grow in height and slowly drift west in real time until it blocked out the bright star Capella completely!!! Even as dawn arrived I could still see glowing blue tendricals reaching above the neighbours rooftop...an unforgettable display.

June 3/4th

WOW WHAT A SHOW! I could still see traces of it here at 04.00 when the glowing blue tendricals literally reached over my neighbours rooftops extending + 30* in height. Just before dawn the NLC's blocked out Capella completely. I took so many images, there was just too much to mention about last night and no words could really do the display justice. Will post images in a while once I get them off the camera. My batteries went dead four times last night and I squeezed every last image I could from the camera before it shut down on me. Did anyone observe it with 10X50 binos?....it was like a stone wall. It was exciting chatting about them via phone / text even from after sunset when we thought we seen them forming in binos, if only we knew at that time what would appear two hours later!

June 8/9th

A faint NLC display was visible here last night from 01.00 - 02.30 BST low in the NW - NE sky sector extending 80* long through Lynx, Auriga and Perseus and 12* in height. It was a glowing white featureless type I, II Veil structure and shinning at type 2 brightness. My sister and I spent a long time observing it from a country location. Got several images however they did not capture what the eye could see.

June 10/11th

Yip that was a nice display last night visible from 23.00 - 01.15 BST. John Mc Connell and I independently spotted it while talking over the phone, we watched it brighten and grow fairly rapidly. The NLC's were a white, type 3 brightness, extending 120* in azimuth from the NW - NE sky through Lynx, Auriga, Perseus and Andromeda with a maximum elevation of 35*. Type II, IIIb, S? structure was present in the forms of veils, ripples and wisps. The rapid western motion of the NLC's could be seen in real time and Capella seemed to flicker rapidly when the NLC's passed in front of the star. Nice show.

June 12/13th

Faint (type 2) Noctilucent cloud display here last night from 01.35 - 03.00 BST in the N - NE within Auriga and Perseus extending 40* in azimuth and 15* high in the form of white type I (veil) and type II (bands). 9th Display of the season from here.

June 13/14th

For the 2nd night in a row we have been treated to another nice NLC display. I cant believe this is my 10th sighting of the season already! Observed it from 00.10 - 03.30 BST in the N - NE sky within Lynx, Auriga, Perseus, Andromeda, Triangulum and Aries extending 90* in azimuth and 32* in height. It was a bright (type 3) white display with orange and yellow colors near the horizon just before dawn within the suns vicinity. Type I Veil, IIb Bands, III, IIIb Waves and IVb Curls.

June 15/16th

This is a BEAUTY!!! I have taken so many images I had to empty my memory card to start again. Nobody will want to miss this one! I think I have obtained my own personal best NLC images to date. I am just in there now and its still visible!

I seen it here from 23.30 - 03.30 BST although it was still visible as dawn was breaking. The display reached its peak between 00.00 - 02.00 were it extended + 120* from the W - E sky through Lynx, Auriga, Perseus, Andromeda, Triangulum, Aries, Pisces and Pegasus. It reached over 40* high until it was nearing the southern border of Cassiopeia! It was a stunning bright type 5 display with type II, IIb bands, III, IIIa waves, IVc whirls, S knots, P billows, O structure. My sister and I observed it from a dark country location where the sky seemed to light up. It was very eerie looking at times when we could clearly see the shape of a running man, dolphin and tornado all wrapped up within the intense coloured glowing clouds. Also seen an iridium flares pass through it. This display was just as good as the one on June 2nd. This was absolutely spectacular and I am very glad my sister got to witness the apparition which she described as 'the end of the world'. Ended up with over 100 images. This is the third night in a row of NLC's and my 11th sighting of the season.

June 26/17th

I was lucky enough to see my 13th Noctilucent cloud display of the season last night from 01.25 - 03.30 BST It was 7* high and + 60* in azimuth with 'herring bone' and 'net like' structure with stunning vivid colours. Visually I could see gold, orange, white, blue, green colours and a deep crimson band at the base of the display along the horizon even though it was the middle of the night. Beautiful sight!

June 28/29th

For the 2nd night in a row I seen another NLC display from here only this time it was faint and consisting of a type IIb structure less Veil with soft edges 10 degrees tall and 80 degrees in azimuth with orange, white, green and blue colours visible from 01.05 - 03.15 BST. Visually they were nice but not very photogenic.

July 1/2nd

The big NLC show on Friday night was followed by another display last night (my 16th sighting of the season) from 01.25 - 03.00 BST extending 60* in azimuth and 7* high from the N to NE sky sectors within Auriga and Perseus. It was of type 2 brightness and of a simple type Ia Veil with no structure. It looked like a glowing white mist.

July 3/4th

Seen yet another NLC display last night through broken cloud and horrible murk. Faint type 1 Veil 60* in azimuth, 7* high and white in colour. Images taken are not good enough to share.

July 4/5th

There are NLC's forming at the moment in the N + NW, soft glowing white bands very low, it could develop into something nice or it might not but if your up keep an eye on it. I did have some problems with clouds here a little later but it was clear enough to see this display from 23.35 - 03.15 BST, a very bright (type 3) white glowing veil with a blue envelope below Capella. It was in the NW - NE sky 12* high and 80* in azimuth. Visually it was very nice but the camera did not do it justice.

July 6/7th

A beautiful NLC display appeared last night from 01.37 - 03.25 BST in the NW - NE sky extending 100* in azimuth and 25* high. It was VERY bright (type 4) with type I Veil and IIb Bands sporting brilliant white, blue, green and orange colours. The sight was all the more atmospheric due to illuminated fog covering the fields, at one stage the fog grew so large and dense that it completely blocked out the strong light from the NLC's and stars!

July 7/8th

The weather has been alot better than forecast. Last night (6 - 7th) the sky was clear and beautifully dark and transparent, clearly the best night of the summer. I was in a car driving down the Glen Shane pass when I seen yet another NLC display, it looked a real beauty with bright glowing white and blue bands and a giant circular structure peaking out behind cloud banks. I took plenty of images but the focus was poor so I binned most of them. When I arrived home my sister said that she had spotted them two hours ago which was really cool...I have sickened her so much by pointing them out on many different nights that she has now become an expert at spotting even the really faint ones.

July 8/9th

Yip that was a beautiful Noctilucent Cloud Display visible in the W - NNE sky sectors extending 100* in azimuth and 25* high, extremely bright (type 5) and would have caught the attention of many drivers on the roads last night with ripples, folds, waves, nets with shadows giving a very 3 -D effect. At one stage I even saw the channel four symbol glowing at me. Brilliant white, blue, green, gold colours with kinks and knots. Certainly in the top three best displays of the season so far! All images ISO 200 / 8 sec exposure

July 9/10th

Another beauty appeared last night after the winds and showers vanished for a while. John Mc Connell sent me a text at 02.45 to alert me to this bright type 5 display so thanks very much John. I would have missed this one if it wasn't for your text. 100* in azimuth and 20* high, brilliant white and blue colours with excellent structure

July 11/12th

I spotted the first indication of a forming NLC display at 23.45 BST as a white diffuse glow then after a while it seemed to fade. At 02.10 however I observed the NLC's experience a very rapid growth from a country location, within 20 minutes it had turned into a stunning display 22* high, 80* in azimuth in the NW - NE sky through Lynx, S. Uma, N. Gemini, Auriga and Perseus. It was so bright (type 5) that it severely impaired my dark adaption!

The structure was awesome with Veil, folds, shadows, knots, kinks, bands crossing at steep angles, sand ripples, net and several types of structure I have never seen before which stood out in very sharp contrast to the background veil. It was so easy to see that I was able to focus my camera on the ripples through the LCD screen with complete ease. The NLC's were still visible at 03.30 when I retired for the night. I also caught the display very easily using the camera on my mobile phone!

Over the last eight days in a row I have seen seven NLC displays and nearly all of them were bright extensive displays with three stunning apparitions. Do you think this marks the peak of this current NLC season?

July 10/11th

There was a veil type display visible last night only 7* above the NW horizon. It was so faint (type 1) and barely visible against the background twilight that I did not take an image as the camera most likely would not have picked it up. Beautiful clear night though all the same.

July 12/13th

A very large NLC display is in progress now, over 100* long already, check the sky wherever you are at, this looks to be a beauty.

I have been out imaging the NLC's since 13.00 and they have grown very well. At its maximum elevation it was 35* high and 140* in azimuth from the W - NE with some lovely sharp delicate structure and colour. Now at 00.34 they seem to be reducing in height and I am assuming it is because the sun is dropping lower, will they fade out? or will they get better before dawn when the sun climbs higher?...I am heading back out now.

I couldn't believe just how good this display was. In the the middle of the night due to the suns position they faded and dropped in height however before dawn they started to grow again at a rapid rate. My sister and I watched the NLC's from a great country location and even she could not believe what she was seeing. They reached a brightness level of type 4 - 5 with beautiful silver / white colors with a multiple range of complex patterns with dark shadows. The image obtained reminded me of two silver stallions galloping side by side.

Then I seen a giant NLC tower grow straight up into the sky surrounded by structure I have never witnessed this before. Between 03.30 and 04.00 they were INCREDIBLE, the biggest NLC display I have ever seen beginning in the west and extending for more than 180* in azimuth into the southeast sky. I watched them rapidly climb higher as they passed the double cluster in Perseus into Cassiopeia then they crossed overhead showing no respect for the zenith until they were 160* from horizon to tip and still growing!

I did a sweep through the electric blue waves with 10X50 binos and found M45 nesting against a background of glorious blue undulating NLC velvet..what a beautiful sight!. The FOV of my camera was too small to do this display justice as I would have needed a fisheye lens. The NLC's were still obvious at 04.00 as dawn was breaking. My 25th sighting of the season and one which I will never forget!!


A faint (type 2) display appeared last night from 01.45 - 03.30 BST in the NW - NE sky through sections of Lynx, S. Uma, Auriga and Taurus extending 80* in azimuth and 22* high sporting type 1 Veil and IIb bands with shadow affects. It was not very photogenic although it was nice visually. That's my 26th NLC sighting of the season, I wonder if we could push past the 30 mark before the the season ends?

July 15/16th

I observed the display last night from 22.45 - 03.30 BST. NLC's extended 160* in azimuth from west - northeast reaching 60* high and touching the zenith. They lowered in height as the sun dropped and brightened to a type 4 display developing white then electric blue colours. Type I veil, IIa bands, IIIb waves, IVc swirls and V unknown structure. At 23.45 I could see a faint green auroral band within the NLC's 10* (below Capella) and 30* long with four? closely packed faint vertical rays east of north.

July 16/17th

Another beautiful NLC display appeared last night from 01.40 - 03.30 BST although it was only 7* high. It extended 110* in azimuth and was a spectacular type 5 brightness with waves, whirls, bands and sporting bright gold, yellow, white, and blue colours with a hint of green. Before dawn I could see planet Venus within the NLC's on the NE horizon - it looked like a bright red gem. 28th sighting.

July 17/18th

More of the same last night. Barnard search (no luck due to murk) and comet hunting. Seen faint type 1 NLC display this morning with blue soft diffuse IIa bands. Visual sighting only, I did not bother with images due to the low surface brightness of the NLC's.

July 26/27th

Faint type 3 NLC display here last night from 02.45 - 03.00 BST 30* in azimuth and 10* high. Blue and white colours however it was a very soft veil structure. On the evening before there was another even fainter veil bringing this seasons count to 33 displays.

July 31/1

I got a glimpse of them through cloud at 23.00 but its clearing up now...going back out.

Martin McKenna

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