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Rarely witnessed weather phenomenon over Moray

By Alistair Whitfield

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They might appear to be nothing more than slightly unusual clouds – but appearances can be deceptive.

These photos, taken in the early hours of this morning by John Trueman, show something witnessed only rarely.

John says: "Noctilucent clouds are a rare sight but you have to be a bit of a nighthawk like me to see them."

The highest clouds in the earth's atmosphere Noctilucent clouds are located about 50 miles above us and are composed of tiny ice crystals.

Their name roughly means 'night shining' in Latin and they are too faint to be witnessed during daylight.

In fact, they are only visible in very specific circumstances.

This requires both the observer and the lower layers of the atmosphere to be in the Earth's shadow, while these very high clouds are still in sunlight.

Water vapour, dust, and very cold temperatures (-120 degrees Celsius) are required for them to form.

The sources of both the dust and the water vapour in the upper atmosphere are not known with certainty.

They were first observed in 1885, two years after the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa.

However it remains unclear whether their appearance had anything to do with the volcanic eruption or whether their discovery was due to more people observing the spectacular sunsets caused by the volcanic debris in the atmosphere.

If you have any photos of Moray that you're happy to share, send them to alistair.whitfield@hnmedia.co.uk

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