Noctilucent Clouds Imaged by Astronaut Chris Hadfield

Noctilucent clouds, also known as “night shining” clouds imaged by Chris Hadfield. Image credit: NASA

Noctilucent clouds, also known as “night shining” clouds imaged by Chris Hadfield. Image credit: NASA

What a perspective! Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield captured this stunning image of noctilucent clouds above the Pacific South Ocean on January 5th, 2013. Also known as “night shining”, or noctilucent clouds, they form at the edge of much larger polar mesospheric clouds.

Polar mesospheric clouds form at an altitude of 76 to 85 kilometers, near the boundary between the mesosphere and the thermosphere. The mesosphere is the layer of the atmosphere above the stratosphere (where airplanes fly), and the thermosphere is above that, where solar radiation causes a significant spike in temperature. (The Space Shuttle photo over on the right is positioned right between those two layers).

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