MIDDLEVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Super rare clouds were spotted over West Michigan this past week and one local photographer was there to see it.
It’s called noctilucent clouds, which can only be seen when the sun is below the horizon either well before dawn, or well after dusk.
Stacey Anne Leeson caught this shot of noctilucent clouds on Tuesday over Middleville.
These pearly white clouds can sometimes appear iridescent. They are the highest clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere, forming a full 50 miles above the ground! Most of our weather occurs in the lowest six miles of the atmosphere.
In fact, noctilucent clouds are so high in the atmosphere, it’s made of vapor and meteor dust.
The reason noctilucent clouds can only be seen just after sunset, or just before sunrise all has to do with how the sun’s rays are cutting through the atmosphere.
If you have ever been by the mountains during sunset, you may notice that the last part of the mountain to get dark is the peak.
The peak of a mountain will stay illuminated by the sun’s rays longer than anywhere else because it is so high off the ground. Locals call this “Alpine Glow”.
That is the same reason we can see noctilucent clouds in our sky when the sun is below the horizon.
Some of the sun’s rays are still hitting the very top of our atmosphere. If noctilucent clouds are there, they will get hit by the sunlight and glow.
The best place in the world to see noctilucent clouds is in high latitudes.
According to experts, June has been a great month for spotting them. So, keep your eyes peeled the next time our usual clouds clear out and the sun has sunk below the horizon.