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Astro Bob

Zapped By Zodiacal Light

15 Sep 2018, 16:33 UTC
Zapped By Zodiacal Light
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I took this photo of the zodiacal light at the start of morning twilight on Sept.13. Notice how the light cone is wider and brighter near the horizon and tapers and fades as you look upward. At right, the cone meets the band of the Milky Way. City glow from Two Harbors, Minn. creates the brighter, horizontal patch just above the horizon at lower left. Details: ISO 1600, 30 seconds, 16mm lens. Bob King
Every fall, a big, faint, cone-shaped glow towers in the eastern sky at the start of dawn called the zodiacal light. It resembles the Milky Way’s smoky appearance but has a smoother texture, and instead of being comprised of stars, originates from comet and asteroid dust. Dust and fine rocky grit sloughed by comets as they approach the sun lingers in the plane of the solar system. A smaller amount of dust from asteroid collisions is also part of the mix. Sunbeams form when dust in the air scatters sunlight; interplanetary dust likewise scatters sunlight to shape the zodiacal light.
In this labeled view, you can see that the zodiacal light cone is centered on the ecliptic, the plane of the planets and solar system. When ...

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