Particle size distribution, composition, and optical properties of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) have been measured above northern Scandinavia during a nocturnal balloon flight within the polar vortex on 19 January 2000. The mountain-wave PSC mainly consisted of nitric acid trihydrate (NAT) particles with number densities between 0.01 and 0.2 cm−3, median radii of 1 to 2 μm and volumes up to 1 μm3cm−3. A comparison between optical PSC data and optical simulations based on the measured particle size distribution indicates that the NAT particles were aspherical with an aspect ratio of 0.5. The NAT particle properties have been compared to another PSC observation on 25 January 2000, where NAT particle number densities were about an order of magnitude higher. In both cases, microphysical modeling indicates that the NAT particles have formed on ice particles in the mountain-wave events. Differences in the NAT particle number density can be explained by the meteorological conditions. We suggest that the higher NAT number density on 25 January can be caused by stronger wave activity observed on that day, larger cooling rates and therefore higher NAT supersaturation.