zodiacal light

by underswansea

_LME4649False dawn. Jupiter, Cancer and the Beehive can be seen in the glow.

The weather continues to be poor for star gazing. In the past, February has been a wonderful month for pointing the camera at the sky. This February has felt like an early spring, with that comes cloudy skies.

This is the time of year zodiacal light can sometimes be seen in the west after the sun goes down. It is a seasonal phenomenon that never ceases to amaze.

In the spring it can be seen on the western horizon after the sun goes down and in fall on the eastern before the sun comes up. It is called false dusk or false dawn depending on the season.

It appears as a pyramid of light. It is caused by sunlight reflecting off dust grains that circle the sun in the inner solar system.

zodiacal.lightFalse dusk. Pleiades can be seen at the top of the pyramid. The Andromeda Galaxy is to the right.

It is remarkably beautiful, yet strange at the same time. In the spring it can make one think the sun is going to come back up in the west after the sun goes down. Did the earth just reverse it’s spin!!!???

In the fall the zodiacal light can make you think the sun is going to come up three hours earlier than expected. There have been many reports of people lost and cold in the bush thinking morning was near, only having to painfully endure the morning not breaking as expected.

It is best seen in dark clear skies without a moon and away from artificial light.

With luck the skies will clear. There has to be some cold crisp weather still to come!