Home > Comets, General > Ever seen the Zodiacal Light ?

Ever seen the Zodiacal Light ?

No, me neither until this morning. I was reading Bob Kings excellent Astro Bob astronomical blog http://astrobob.areavoices.com/ and the entry for yesterday happened to discuss the autumn phenomena called the Zodiacal Light http://astrobob.areavoices.com/2011/09/28/comet-honda-visits-the-ghost-of-comets-past/  This faint, low,  roughly triangular glow of light, best seen in the east just before morning twilight, represents the reflected light from cosmic dust which has gathered on the ecliptic plane. The ecliptic plane is slightly tilted upward at this time of year which makes it more visible, particularly when the moon is absent. This interplanetary dust lies in a lens shaped band centered around the sun and extending out beyond Earth’s orbit. The dust is commonly thought to derive from the trail of comets passing through the solar system. I had a look this morning and there was certainly a very faint and high glow extending up at least 45 degrees into the sky when looking east around 6-6.30 am. I didn’t have the DSLR with me at the time but later on I thought I would have a look at the fisheye weather cams for the GRAS telescope in New Mexico and sure enough a faint triangular glow in the east was clearly discernible. Take a look at the image below and if you can see a faint wedge of light shooting up above the pole at the bottom of the image toward the Milky Way – that is the Zodiacal Light !

Categories: Comets, General
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