mother-of-pearl cloud

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Noun1.mother-of-pearl cloud - a luminous iridescent cloud at a high altitude that may be seen when the sun is a few degrees below the horizon
cloud - a visible mass of water or ice particles suspended at a considerable altitude
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Minnaert (1974) describes the phenomenon this way: "Sometimes, these clouds are striped, undulating, cirrus like; at other times, the entire cloud bank is almost one color, with spectral colors along the edges in oblong horizontal rows" and "The whole scene is indescribably lovely and majestic." Minnaert is describing nacreous clouds, known by atmospheric physicists as one type of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) and by the more descriptive moniker of mother-of-pearl clouds (MPCs).