Archive for March 4, 2019

03/04/2019 – Ephemeris – Zodiacal light is especially visible this time of year

March 4, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, March 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 6:34, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:13. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 7:07 tomorrow morning.

Zodiacal light is a faint but towering glow that can be seen after the end of astronomical twilight on moonless nights. 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 apparent annual path of the Sun in the sky, along which lie the constellations of the zodiac. Right now the end of twilight is about 8 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, centered on the ecliptic and the constellations of the zodiac and increases in brightness and width toward the Sun.

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


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.

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

This is my previous best photo of zodiacal light. Zodiacal Light and Comet Hale-Bopp April 1997. Enhanced contrast.

The latest versions of Stellarium also show zodiacal light, but to see it the atmosphere needs to be turned off.  That’s keyboard shortcut A.