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03/03/2016 – Ephemeris – How to spot Zodiacal Light

March 3, 2016

Ephemeris for Thursday, March 3rd.  The Sun will rise at 7:15.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 6:33.   The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 4:00 tomorrow morning.

There is a faint glow in the west that lingers after the end of twilight. It is visible to the careful observer.  It’s Zodiacal Light, the reflected glow from countless bits of dust in the plane of the solar system.  Its glow can be seen after twilight officially ends at 8:11 p.m.  You’ll need to go to a spot with no towns or cities immediately to the west of you.  The glow will appear as a thin pyramidal glow tilted to the left.  It’s very difficult to find the first time, but once seen you’ll easily find it again.  Zodiacal Light is easiest seen on spring evenings and autumn mornings when the ecliptic, the path of the planets and zodiac are nearest to vertical.  The farther south one goes the easier it is to see.  I first saw it when I was stationed in the Air Force in Louisiana.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Zodiacal Light and Comet Hale-Bopp April 1997

Zodiacal Light and Comet Hale-Bopp April 1997. My image.

Zodiacal Light and Comet Hale-Bopp April 1997. Enhanced contrast.

Zodiacal Light and Comet Hale-Bopp April 1997. Enhanced contrast.

I find I have better luck photographing Zodiacal Light if I take  picture in its general direction of something else.

 

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