nacreous cloud

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They may look like an Impressionist masterpiece, but these rare nacreous clouds have been spotted ‘painting’ skies above the UK in a rainbow of colours. Photographers across the north of England and Scotland have captured the stunning 'mother of pearl’ formations which sit in the lower stratosphere. (Source)

flickr

Nacreous Polar Sky by lala conica

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Polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs), also known as nacreous clouds can be seen in the polar countries of the northern and southern hemisphere. They are super pretty but their appearance is actually not a good thing at all: they contribute to destroying our ozone layer which protects life on Earth from harmful ultraviolet light.
Nacreous clouds form in the stratosphere, twice as high as commercial planes fly, where the ozone layer resides. Their ice crystals encourage chemical reactions between human-produced chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), resulting in the release of chlorine gas, which breaks down ozone.
image credits in captions

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lenticular clouds over flagstaf (video). as mentioned in these earlier posts, lenticular clouds are typically formed near mountains, as air, which flows over and down the their sides, will overshoot and spring back up (much like how a car will continue to bounce a bit after going over a speed bump). the air oscillates like this for a while, with clouds forming on the upward part of the wave as the moist rising air cools.

lenticular clouds are a bundle of movement, yet look stationary, as the flow of  air up one side of the mountain replenishes the cloud on the windward side, while the dry air flowing down the other side dries the cloud out on the leeward side. these clouds can appear to hover for hours or even days until weather conditions change, and are occasionally confused for ufos.

The Signs as Breathtaking, Natural Phenomena

Aries: A Blue Volcano (in Ethiopia). The glow comes from the combustion of sulfuric gases that are pushed through the cracks of the volcano at high temperatures.

Taurus: Wave Rock (located in Australia). That’s right, this is a 46 inch wave cemented entirely in rock! This geological phenomenon is known as flared slope and it usually occurs when erosion is concentrated in lower areas of the rock. Surf’s up! This rock is strong, deep, and carefully made- reminiscent of a Taurus.

Gemini: Nacreous Clouds. These are clouds that give a very futuristic, holographic look to the sky. These incredible clouds are extremely rare, because normally, the stratosphere is quite dry and clouds cannot form. But in extreme polar winters, there’s just enough moisture for these strange clouds to take form about 12 miles above Earth. Intriguing, Gorgeous, and new- just like all of you Gems!

Cancer: Glowing Ocean (Vaadhoo Island). These patches of ocean literally reflect the starry night sky. It’s gorgeous. According to marine biologists, the glowing is caused by a massive red tide of bioluminescent phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedrum.The microorganisms emit light in response to stress, such as when a wave crashes into the shore. The result is a wickedly cool glowing ocean. Romantic and dreamy, like the Cancer zodiac’s nature.

Leo: “Fire Rainbow”, or circumhorizontal arc. This appears when the sun is high in the sky (higher than 58° above the horizon), and its light passes through diaphanous, high-altitude cirrus clouds made up of hexagonal plate crystals. Sunlight entering the crystals’ vertical side faces and leaving through their bottom faces is refracted (as through a prism) and separated into an array of visible colors. Beautiful and bold, just like you Leo!

Virgo: Lake Hillier (located in Australia). This lake is flamingo pink for no definite reason. It’s just… a pink lake. The cause of this phenomenon’s color is assumed to be the reaction between its natural salts, sodium bicarbonate and red halophilic bacteria. It’s kind of cute, actually. It looks so simple in it’s entirety, it makes me wish more lakes were pink for no reason. It’s cuteness, humbleness, and simplicity definitely reminded me of all the Virgos.

Libra: Desert roses. These beauties are made in the desert from formations of the minerals gypsum  and barite with sand inclusions. The ‘petals’ are crystals flattened,  fanning open along characteristic gypsum cleavage planes. This phenomenon has a stunning beauty, it could almost be a real rose! All you Libras are adorable little flowers too, don’t worry.

Scorpio: The Black Sun (Denmark) During spring in Denmark, flocks of more than a million European starlings gather into a single group to form incredibly large and intricate shapes in the sky. The amazing scenes are only possible because of the flock’s amazing communication and coordination. They’re complex, focused, dark, and beautiful- much like the Scorpio persona.

Sagittarius: Auroras. An aurora is a natural light display in the sky predominantly seen in the high latitude regions. Aurorae are caused by cosmic wind, solar rays, and magnetospheric plasma interacting with the upper atmosphere. Lots of light, lots of beauty, and lots of pow- kind of like when Sagittarius walks into the room. ;)

Capricorn: Frozen methane bubbles. Methane bubbles form in water when dead organic matter falls to the bottom, much to the delight of bacteria. When methane gets trapped in frozen water, viola! Just don’t light a match to these- since it’s methane gas, that could get very bad very quickly. That’s kind of why I associated these with Capricorn folk- they’re elegant looking and cool, but also cold (ha- literally and in character). They’re also prone to combust. Jk about that last part. Humans don’t combust. What I meant by that was that Capricorn can be very dangerous, despite their calm and collected ways.

Aquarius: Danxia Landform (located in China). It is a unique type of petrographic geomorphology found in China. Danxia landform is formed from red-coloured sandstonesand conglomerates of largely Cretaceous age. The landforms look very much like karst topography that forms in areas underlain by limestones, but since the rocks that form danxia are sandstones and conglomerates, they have been called “pseudo-karst” landforms. Lots of vibrant, beautiful colors here! No pale pastel today! This phenomenon reminds me of Aquarius’ unique, artistic nature. This landform breathes the life into me. Simply breathtaking.

Pisces: A Brinicle. When the surface of the sea freezes—such as around the north and south poles—it does so in a way that forces pockets of especially cold and salty seawater to gather on the underside of the ice. This mixture of brine is denser than the seawater below it, and as a result it tends to slowly sink to the bottom. Now, because it’s so cold, the fresher water below the brine actually freezes around it as it falls, which results in a giant icicle under the surface. That’s what a Brinicle is. It’s like a pretty, still underwater tornado. :) This reminds me of Pisces because it has that slow motion, under the sea vibe. It’s relaxing, perplexing, but also has this really languid dreamy feeling to it. It’s fit for all of you adorable fish!

Ice particle iridescence is seen in high altitude nacreous clouds above cliffs in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire, England on February 2nd 2016. 
This rarely seen phenomenon is caused by the diffraction of sunlight through ice crystals in the clouds. A freak combination of weather conditions allowed clouds to form, far higher and colder than normal, in the earth’s stratosphere. Credit: Getty Images/Ian Forsyth

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North, south and west respectively, The Sky 2nd Feb, 2016, 8:13am, Scotland. Storm Henry brought across some really beautiful nacreous clouds!