Tag Archives: zodiacal light

Behold: a faint band of light reaching above the western horizon just after sunset last Sunday in rural Illinois. But what could it mean? To wit:

Taken from an old farmstead, the luminous glow is zodiacal light, prominent in the west after sunset during planet Earth’s northern hemisphere spring. On that clear evening the band of zodiacal light seems to engulf bright yellowish Mars and the Pleiades star cluster. Their close conjunction is in the starry sky above the old barn’s roof. Zodiacal light is sunlight scattered by interplanetary dust particles that lie near the Solar System’s ecliptic plane. Of course all the Solar System’s planets orbit near the plane of the ecliptic, within the band of zodiacal light. But zodiacal light and Mars may have a deeper connection. A recent analysis of serendipitous detections of interplanetary dust by the Juno spacecraft during its Earth to Jupiter voyage suggest Mars is the likely source of the dust that produces zodiacal light.

(Image: Joshua Rhoades)


Behold: zodiacal light – seen here as a band of illumination connecting the ground to the Milky Way in the sky above Chile. To wit:

Zodiacal light — a stream of dust that orbits the Sun in the inner Solar System. It is most easily seen just before sunrise, where it has been called a false dawn, or just after sunset. The origin of zodiacal dust remains a topic of research, but is hypothesized to result from asteroid collisions and comet tails. The featured wide-angle image shows the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy arching across the top, while the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite galaxy to our Milky Way, is visible on the far left. The image is a combination of over 30 exposures taken last July near La Serena among the mountains of Chile. During the next two months, zodiacal light can appear quite prominent in northern skies just after sunset.

(Image: Roman Ponča (ht: Masaryk U.))