Noctilucent cloud


A noctilucent cloud forms in the mesosphere at about 75 to 90 kilometers altitude, compared to a maximum of 12 km for common clouds. These are ice crystals that form around nuclei of dust or water vapor released by space launchers. In the latter case, they rather form at about 100-110 km altitude. They are illuminated by the sun that is about 10 degrees below the horizon due to their high altitude.

These clouds are normally visible in summer between latitudes 50 and 70 degrees. Seeing such a cloud from Florida (latitude 26 degrees) and in the month of April is therefore quite unusual. The explanation came to me via a group of experts who link this cloud to the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the space station’s Crew 4 which took place 2 hours earlier and 300 km to the north of my location in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Photo time: April 27, 2022 at 5:54 a.m. EST.

I was taking pictures of the Jupiter, Venus, Moon trio when this cloud appeared. The only photographic equipment available to me was my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra cell phone which I used in Night mode and propped up tightly on a pole.