Weird noctilucent clouds over Philly
November 19, 2008 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Anyone else in the Philadelphia area seeing this? There are some strange, vertical clouds in the area that look a lot like aurorae (it's well into darkness here), but they aren't moving. They look like they might be high-altitude noctilucent clouds, but I think it's the wrong time of year for those. What are they? I've never seen anything like them.
posted by drinkcoffee to Science & Nature (11 answers total)
Probably the Aurora. That sounds exactly like the first time I saw it here in Montana. Like fingers slowly growing high over my house. Other than the slow "growth" there wasn't a lot of actual visible movement. Keep an eye on it. If it is the aurora, it's really really cool. It's not too early for them.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:03 PM on November 19, 2008

By the way... don't expect it to look exactly like the photos you have seen. Those are usually time-exposures, which capture the movement over several seconds or even minutes. It doesn't look like that to the naked eye, at least in the few cases I have seen it.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:06 PM on November 19, 2008

Interesting -- I did a Google image search on "aurora", and this looks exactly like what I saw, before the clouds moved in. Is there supposed to be aurora activity tonight?
posted by drinkcoffee at 6:13 PM on November 19, 2008

I can't see it. Is it still there? To the north?
posted by nosila at 6:13 PM on November 19, 2008

Not any more -- they were pretty visible all over about an hour ago, overhead and toward the east. Now it's darker and clouds have moved in.
posted by drinkcoffee at 6:20 PM on November 19, 2008

Are they perfectly vertical? They might be ice pillars. We get them here in MN under the right situations.
posted by cabingirl at 7:25 PM on November 19, 2008

POES aurora forecast.
posted by horsemuth at 7:41 PM on November 19, 2008

As the POES aurora page shows, there aren't any auroras visible in the 48 states tonight. The sunspot cycle is at a low. There are no sunspots on the sun. The sun isn't squirting any stuff toward us. So no, what you saw wasn't the aurora.
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:18 PM on November 19, 2008

My bet would be on the ice pillars. Given your longitude you're only going to see an aurora directly to the north. From my quick scan of the weather it looks cold and calm enough for them to form.
posted by Ookseer at 12:37 AM on November 20, 2008

Thanks everyone. According to KYW, they were just ice crystals.
posted by drinkcoffee at 3:53 AM on November 20, 2008

What part of the Delaware Valley are you in? I wonder if they would have been visible from Center City. I'll have to keep an eye out next time those conditions are present.
posted by greekphilosophy at 7:25 AM on November 20, 2008

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