In casting around various French websites for statistics relating to Covid infections in Normandy, I came across this wonderful new word. New in both English and French too. Nosculent or noctulescent respectively. I rather think the French word has the edge - it fairly rolls off the tongue!
The word refers to a certain type of 'night-time clouds' - nuages noctulescents - which appear but rarely around the time of the mid summer equinox. This is a translation of the full story from the Actu.fr website (link to original): -
Weather. What were these bright spots in the sky of Normandy in recent days?
Strange light spots were observed at the beginning of the week in the Normandy skies. Called "nosculent clouds", they are rarely seen in France.
Explanations. At dawn or at dusk, the Norman skies of the past few days have been adorned with mysterious streaks of light.
Like filaments, they stretch for several hundred kilometers. Above Calvados, as in Bayeux (see photo above) on Monday June 22, many Normans were able to observe this strange phenomenon.
"Lit up like neon lights" What's going on? Laurent Garcelon, president of the Infoclimat association, says that this phenomenon remains "rarely observable". These are nocturnal clouds:
"In France these clouds, lit like neon lights, are visible at the time of the summer solstice when the sky is clear."
At altitude, in the mesosphere, these are located about 70 kilometers above cow level (for info - references to cows are squeezed into as many Normandy stories as possible). Other photos were captured in the north of France.
Little is known about the exact mechanism, but they are formed thanks to tiny ice crystals. At sunrise and sunset, sunlight illuminates them from below the horizon. The reflection of the light on the ice particles gives the clouds this luminous aspect, hence their names of night clouds."
A phenomenon reserved for early risers or late sleepers. Last Monday, it was 4:30 a.m. when they were observed.
Passed me by then. The dog might get me up at around 6:30 - but 4:30? Beyond the pale (did you see what I did there?).
The article also had another couple of wonderful words. Dawn in French is Aurore (as popular as a name in France as Dawn is in the UK). Try rolling both those r's as you pronounce it! Definitely NOT made for English speaking mouths.
Dusk is the rather disappointing - if accurate - translation of 'crépuscule'. Mind you 'crepuscular' exists in English but with the broader meaning of 'relating to twilight'. It, too, has a wonderful tactile quality as it crackles and hisses out of the mouth. Auroral also exists, but relating to dawn's early light. That sounds like a cue for a song! Unlike crespuscular, I can't say I've ever come across it. If I have it was unmemorable enough not to stick.
I think we are all familiar with 'aurora' - as in borealis and australis. The origin is from the latin, Aurora - the Roman goddess of the dawn.
So much for early Saturday meanderings around the internet!