It still is unbelievable that my photo won the ‘Skycapes’ category of this years Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest from the Royal Museums Greenwich! You can see all winners here, so many stunning photos!

I named the photo ‘Painting the sky’:

Painting the sky

This is a capture of the beautiful polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs). Usually they are visible just a handful of times per year as quite a few of circumstances have to align to see them.

PSCs appear about 15-25km up in the atmosphere and only if the temperature there drops below -75C. Also the sun has to be at a certain angle below the horizon.

Since over eight years I’ve been looking for those clouds and never saw them – until the last day of 2019. I was with a group on the New Years Aurora Getaway and we tried to find clear skies. After a while we found them and noticed some gentle colors of pink and green in the sky.


Right away I knew I’d have found the PCSs – finally! What a treat for me and the group!

When arriving at a suitable spot, we made our way onto the frozen river, where the show started to unfold. Can you see the animal tracks in the snow?


Keep in mind, this is during the ‘Polar night’, a time where many think it is dark for 24/7 in Lapland.  Although the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon, the light during day is wonderful.

Being out there, the temperature was bearable, but at some point, strong wind gusts came down the river bed, making it very uncomfortable

I also set up a time lapse to show the movement of the PSCs. You can see it as well as the windy conditions in this video:

Here are a couple of more photos of the PSCs. Just before it gets too dark, these clouds turn orange and pink, looking very much like a regular sunset.


PS: ‘Painting the sky’ is now also added to The Galleries, a collection of photos which can be purchased as prints, etc.