My plans for tonight’s astronomy were take out scope, point towards Jupiter, view it, the nearby planet Uranus and then move about half the Jupiter-Moon distance in the opposite direction to the Moon and find comet Temple, presently at 8th magnitude or thereabouts. Sadly, cloud crowded over the eastern half of the sky and never really melted away properly until now, as the Sun rises.
Before the cloud had a chance to move in, I took a snap or two of the ISS pass at 23:20. I looked to the north, but there was nothing doing from where I was and so headed indoors. Ten or fifteen minutes later, Stuart Atkinson sent a text warning that Noctilucent Clouds were about. A second text suggested they were pretty bright.
I headed out, but the cloud was thick and again from my observing positions, not much in terms of NLCs could be seen. At Stuart’s request I did a weather check and things looked pretty bad for the night, with mixed cloud and clear spells peaking about 2am, clearing for 4am and then regathering strength. As it happened, they cleared a bit earlier and have regathered strength since I began writing this.
I carried on with normal stuff on the computer until about 3am when I noticed a persistent white glow to the north. Initially dismissing it as the Sun or twilight poking through a hole in the clouds, I took a closer look and saw the clouds were actually not as extensive as I thought – and to the north-west, an obvious set of NLCs fought the growing light of the Sun. I texted Stuart and headed out.
I headed to the Cliff Terrace back lane where I normally get things to the north and did a few test shots, which came out nicely. I then headed to the front of the terrace, which gave me a Western view, at which point more photos where taken. Although very bright, it wasn’t as extensive as the bigger displays of last year. I headed to Bowling Fell and took a few more shots over the town, but the emergent twilight was already killing them off.
Back to Cliff Terrace to see what little I could and then back home for 3.30am. From the office window, I was able to see and snap the final wisp or two before uploading to my NLCs 2010 flickr set and writing this.