Mother-of-pearl cloud: is it the gorgeous sky in Monk's eyes?
Mother-of-pearl cloud: is it the gorgeous sky in Monk's eyes?
Why does the sky in the Scream look like this?

when it comes to the painter Edward Monk, people must first think of the Scream.

Why does the sky in the picture have horizontal stripes of red, orange and blue? Of course, this may only be an expression of the painter's inner feelings, but it is also likely to come from a real phenomenon.

(photo taken near McMurdo Station, Antarctica, source: Alan Light,Wikimedia Commons)

this phenomenon is rare and only occurs at high latitudes that are cold enough (such as Monk's hometown of Norway). But if you encounter it, it will certainly impress you. The phenomenon in the picture is sometimes called mother-of-pearl clouds or nacreous clouds. To be exact, it belongs to a polar stratospheric cloud.

the most common clouds are located in the troposphere, and the stratosphere is quite dry, so it is difficult to form clouds. However, clouds can be generated when the temperature is low enough (- 78 °C), and such low temperatures can only be achieved in the stratosphere over high latitudes in winter. When the sun is about to rise or just below the horizon, the high-altitude pearl clouds will still be illuminated by the sun and produce a very gorgeous iridescent color under the action of small ice crystals in the clouds.

(a group of pictures of nacreous clouds over time were taken in Leirsund, southern Norway. Shooting time: in the evening after sunset on January 20, 2008, photographer: F. Prata)

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in a paper published this year, some researchers compared several editions of Monk's "Scream" paintings with real pictures of nacreous clouds, and enumerated the sightings of nacreous clouds near the time of creation. The author believes that if the sky in the Scream does come from what the author saw with his own eyes, then the mother-of-pearl cloud should be the most consistent prototype in all aspects.

(the partial comparison between a painting and a photo in the paper is quite consistent)

other pictures of the mother-of-pearl cloud:

(photo source: Cherie Ude, also taken in Antarctica. )

(picture source: Albert de Nijs)

if you are interested, you can search for "nacreous clouds". The pictures are really beautiful! I'd like to see it with my own eyes (but Norway is so cold _ (: cold "∠) _)

by the way, I also get another TIL through this paper: according to Monk, it is not people who shout in the picture, but the sky, and people are actually covering their ears.

the paper mentioned above:

A popular science article on pearl clouds: