Articles | Volume 3, issue 1
27 Mar 2012
 | 27 Mar 2012

Notes on historical aspects on the earliest known observations of noctilucent clouds

P. Dalin, N. Pertsev, and V. Romejko

Abstract. The present paper considers historical aspects of the earliest known observations of noctilucent clouds (NLCs). The 1884 and 1885 are discussed by considering important historical citations by the pioneers of the earliest known observations of noctilucent clouds. For the first time in NLC studies, we consider seven major volcanic eruptions: Laki in 1783, Mount St. Helens in 1800, Tambora in 1815, Galunggung in 1822, Cosig├╝ina in 1835, Shiveluch in 1854 and Askja in 1875. These all preceded the catastrophic 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, which despite having a lesser magnitude than Tambora in 1815, had pronounced effects on the atmosphere. These eruptions represent possible triggers for the appearance of NLCs. For the first time, we publish an unknown, in English-speaking literature, historical fact on the first determinations of the altitude of noctilucent clouds made by two Russian astronomers V. K. Tseraskii and A. A. Belopolskii on 26 June 1885, who managed to infer the altitude of the clouds in the range of 73–83 km, that is, for the first time, demonstrating the possible existence of the clouds at great altitudes in the Earth's atmosphere. Moreover, V. K. Tseraskii was the first observer to photograph noctilucent clouds in 1885 or 1886, which is 1–2 yr before the German astronomer O. Jesse, who owns the first published images of noctilucent clouds. The photographs made by V. K. Tseraskii, unfortunately, did not reach us.