Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2023 February 9
Explanation: Vivid and lustrous, wafting iridescent waves of color wash across this skyscape from Kilpisjärvi, Finland. Known as nacreous clouds or mother-of-pearl clouds, they are rare. But their unforgettable appearance was captured looking south at 69 degrees north latitude at sunset on January 24. A type of polar stratospheric cloud, they form when unusually cold temperatures in the usually cloudless lower stratosphere form ice crystals. Still sunlit at altitudes of around 15 to 25 kilometers, the clouds can diffract sunlight even after sunset and just before the dawn.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC,
NASA Science Activation
& Michigan Tech. U.