July 14, 2009 Noctilucent Clouds and July 22, 2009 Faint Auroras

These are my first noctilucent clouds. It's 1hr and 20 minutes after sunset. I only headed out to shoot a couple storms just into Iowa. I was crossing the bridge and looked north and was like, what the hell! It was obvious right away what they were, beings they were so bright so long after sunset. They light up so much so late because they are at such extreme altitudes. They are around 50 miles high. Consider a commercial jet flys around 6 miles(30,000 feet). Some extreme or tropic region updrafts can reach 70,000 feet(14 miles). So these clouds are way way up there and show later as the sun is still hitting on them while the Earth is dark. They come and go like a sunset, just a lot later. The above is a 17mm shot I think.

This is telephoto with the 100-400mm.

They even look spacey. Just look at the left side over there. The more redish/purple colors at top are off lower regular clouds, getting some light from town on them. You can see that band in the first image.

They are rarely seen this far south. I've never seen them and I'm out quite a bit. For perspective they are surely more rare this far south than even auroras. I'm around 40 degrees south.

Then a few nights later auroras happened, late at night and were seen at least this far south. I could barely see them, but could certainly tell they were there with the naked eye. These are 50mm shots at a fast F1.8 and ISO'd to 400 or more for several seconds, so it's a lot brighter than it was. I was only out this night/3:30 a.m. hoping to get some low fog sunrise shots. I drove up to Murray Hill once I saw this was happening. There was no moon so it was dark as hell. I walked up the hill anyway, which surprised me as I'm not usually a fan of walking places in the dark lol. Soon as I get up there I hear people talking down below in those hills not far away at all. Plain as day guys talking. I thought who the hell is out at this hour and talking. It's a pretty off the beaten path location really, so if someone wanted to mess with you at that hour, well it would not be hard. I figured it had to be campers from the boy scout camp near there. It was just kind of funny it had to happen after I'd walked all the way up there with my stuff, with a flashlight going too. I thought well whoever they are, they know exactly where I just went.

Cool low fog trying to add to the scene.