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Watch the skies over the Northwest put on a show at night

Milky Way Galaxy shines over the Cascade Mountains on June 11, 2018 with an appearance from Mars. (Photo: Meg McDonald / Wild Northwest Beauty Photography)

Just because the sun has set and it's dark outside doesn't mean you can't find some gorgeous photos around here.

Meg McDonald with Wild Northwest Beauty Photography was out during a clear night Monday and captured a breathtaking video of the Milky Way Galaxy rising over the Cascades in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

"Note Jupiter is in one frame and Mars is in another. Saturn is also present midway between them. Also note the bands of green and violet airglow radiating up from the horizon near the end of the video," McDonald said. "Because this night was so incredibly clear, no special processing was used to bring out the details of the Milky Way in these images. Normally photographers have to stack images or track stars, or use other processing enhancements, to show this much detail in the galactic core. But in this extraordinarily clear night sky, the glow from the galactic core was very bright to the naked eye, as were the rest of the brilliant stars."

Meanwhile, over in Hansville, the nighttime camera at SkunkBayWeather.com captured the season's inaugural "noctilucent cloud" display. Those are very high clouds at 50,000-100,000 feet that shine an eerie blue when illuminated by the below-horizon sun.

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 SpaceWeather.com. 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.

And just because I have you here and it's weather related, check out this incredible video of a tornado that went through Laramie, Wyoming earlier this month. I know it's not "nighttime" or "Northwest", so just consider it a blog bonus:

Mashable has more information from the videographer on the chase.

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