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04/03/2018 – Ephemeris – How to spot Zodiacal Light

April 3, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 3rd. The Sun will rise at 7:19. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 8:12. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 11:44 this evening.

Zodiacal light is a faint but towering glow that can be seen after the end of astronomical twilight on a moonless night. It is seen in the west in the evening in late winter and early spring and in the east in the morning in late summer and early autumn. The axis of the glow is the ecliptic, the plane of the Earth’s orbit, indeed that of all the planets, along which lie the constellations of the zodiac. Right now the end of twilight is about 10 p.m. and advancing at a rate of a minute or two each night. The cause of zodiacal light is dust, micron sized dust from comets and asteroids. Most of these lie in the plane of the solar system, which is why zodiacal light is centered on the ecliptic and the constellations of the zodiac and increases in brightness and width toward the Sun.  Spotting Zodiacal Light takes dark adapted eyes,  time and patience.

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

Addendum

Zodiacal Light

Much enhanced Zodiacal Light from the my back yard at 9:31 p.m. March 16, 2018, 5 minutes after the official end of astronomical twilight. Canon EOS Rebel T5 18mm f.l., f/3.5, 6 sec. ISO 12,800 . The clouds on the left appear to be illuminated by the lights of the towns of Beulah and Frankfort 20+ miles away.  Note the Pleiades at the top of the image.

 

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