Cool 'night shining' clouds picked up on Hansville time lapse camera

"Noctilucent" clouds as seen on a web camera in Hansville, Wash. on June 28, 2017. (Photo: Greg Johnson,

It's late June and that means it's the season for the eerily beautiful "noctilucent clouds" to make their appearances on clear nights.

Also informally known "night shining" clouds, these are no ordinary clouds -- they float above much of the weather at the edge of the atmosphere at sit 50 miles high!

Greg Johnson's camera in Hansville at got the inaugural sighting of them this year:

According to NASA, the cloud's ice crystals form from meteor dust. "At these altitudes, water vapor can freeze into clouds of ice crystals," said Sarah Loff.

The clouds are usually spotted about 30-60 minutes before sunrise or after sunset when the sun is between 6 and 16 degrees below the horizon, according to That's because the clouds are so high they can still "see" the sun from that altitude but it's dark enough on the surface to spot their cool, electric blue glow.

Typically these clouds are brightest in late June and July, so if it's a clear night, check after sunset or get up before the early bird and glance to the high eastern sky before sunrise.

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