Noctilucent Clouds above the Dutch Wadden islands, taken from Zwarte Haan.
Shot on assignment in 2014 for the Leeuwarder Courant (European Newspaper of the year 2014 and International Newspaper of the Year 2018).
We spent the night at the end of the longest road in the Netherlands, that ends at the Wadden Sea (a UNESCO world heritage site) at Zwarte Haan with our camera's. There is nearly no light pollution, apart from the lighthouses and small villages on the islands that lie in the Wadden Sea.
We were there to capture a tenuous cloud-like phenomena called Noctilucent clouds. These clouds consist of ice crystals and are only visible during astronomical twilight, in the upper atmosphere of the Earth. They can most often be seen during the summer months when the sun is below the horizon, but while the clouds are still catching direct sunlight. They are the highest clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere at altitudes of around 76 to 85 kilometres (47 to 53 mi).
What fascinates me is that Noctilucent Clouds are still not fully understood. In a way, you are photographing an unsolved mystery. What scientists do know, is that Noctilucent clouds can only form under very restricted conditions during local summers. The last time that they were seen in the Netherlands was in 2014 (which is when I made these photographs) and before that in 2005, 1997 and 1988. It appears that on a global scale more and more Noctilucent Clouds are being reported, possibly due to the changing climate.