JULY 12/13TH



July 12/13th 23.26 BST. From my log book...It was just after sunset and I was on the computer watching the latest updates live on NASA TV as the Space Shuttle Endeavour was due to launch that night and I hoped to see it, in fact that was my main goal, however the launch kept getting delayed again and again due to thunderstorms near the launch pad. I was getting frustrated so I checked the UKweatherworld forum and seen excited reports of a massive NLC display being observed from all over the UK with people saying it was the best they had ever seen. So, I went downstairs and looked out the front door and got a delightful shock, actually what I saw was like a punch in the face.

The sky looked like Armageddon all over again!. This was among the most spectacular and abrupt NLC displays I had ever seen and instantly placed it in my top ten list of displays. It covered almost the entire sky, crossed the zenith passed Arcturus, and even far into the S during evening twilight. I got my Mum and Sister outside to look at it and they couldn't believe it, my Sister has seen most of the best displays which I have, but this one was just ridiculous, she just shook her head in disbelief and said ''that's unbelievable''. This was another type 5 shadow-caster, brilliant white, and very solid looking with just about every type of NLC structure on the list and it could be seen moving with the naked eye, fast!. It boasted remarkable IIb bands with shadows, ripples, waves, knots, stunning lacunosus holes and whirls which where visible from overhead down to the N horizon behind the houses in the area where I live.

It was so incredibly large and extensive that it was like a glowing silvery-blue blanket, it felt almost pointless taking images at this stage because even the 28mm wide angle lens would just be a postage stamp rectangle of the entire display. A fish eye would have been the only thing which done it justice. I took some video instead. Visible from 22.30 - 04.00 BST. It was a very calm but chilly night and very atmospheric with a waning gibbous Moon on view. There where banks of fog which were illuminated by the NLCs. I went out with the camera forgetting all about the Space Shuttle, because even it didn't compare to this monster display. The above image is 28mm wide angle and taken from the Coleraine Road, Maghera looking N to NW. NLCs fill the frame and extend far out of it to the L, R, zenith, SW, and NE. Classic herringbone structure is visible to the L. There was nice dark convective clouds around which contrasted nicely with the display, those where big too.