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Posts Tagged ‘Zodiacal Light’

03/23/2020 – Ephemeris – See zodiacal light in the evening

March 23, 2020 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, March 23rd. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 20 minutes, setting at 7:59, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:37. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 8:11 tomorrow morning.

With the bright moon out of the sky for a few more nights it’s time to look for the zodiacal light in the evening. It’s 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 astronomical twilight is about 9:41 p.m. and advancing at a rate of a minute or two each night. Go to a spot with a dark western sky, no big cities or towns out that way. Zodiacal light is caused by dust spread out around the Sun.

The event 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.

03/25/2019 – Ephemeris – Zodiacal light is visible in the west again

March 25, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, March 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 24 minutes, setting at 8:01, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:35. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 1:37 tomorrow morning.

With the bright moon out of the sky for nearly two weeks it’s time to look for the zodiacal light. It’s 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 astronomical twilight is about 9:45 p.m. and advancing at a rate of a minute or two each night. Go to a spot with a dark western sky, no big cities or towns out that way. Zodiacal light is caused by dust spread out around the Sun.

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. Note the Pleiades top left of center and the constellation of Ares below and right of center. 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.

Added ecliptic line

I’ve added the approximate ecliptic line from a Stellarium view of the same date and time.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

03/30/2017 – Ephemeris – Have you ever seen zodiacal light?

March 30, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, March 30th.  The Sun will rise at 7:26.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 41 minutes, setting at 8:07.  The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 11:23 this evening.

After you spot the moon tonight, hang around outside at the end of astronomical twilight, about 9:50 p.m. look to the west at Taurus the bull and Gemini, trying to block out the Moon.  Then broaden your gaze.  There will be a very faint triangular glow with broad base at the horizon leaning a bit to the left, with its apex near the V of the face of Taurus the bull and the bright star Aldebaran to the right of Orion.  This glow is called Zodiacal Light, caused by the reflected sunlight off a cloud of dust located in the plane of the solar system.  Most of the large bodies of the solar system orbit the sun close to a single plane.  Zodiacal Light is best seen on spring evenings and autumn mornings where it tilts to the right.

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.

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

March 3, 2016 Comments off

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.

 

04/01/2014 – Ephemeris – Viewing Zodiacal Light

April 1, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for April Fools Day, Tuesday, April 1st. The sun will rise at 7:23. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 46 minutes, setting at 8:09. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 10:37 this evening.

There is a faint glow visible to the careful observer at twilight’s end at 9:51 p.m. This glow is in the west. It’s Zodiacal Light, the reflected glow from countless bits of cometary dust in the plane of the solar system. 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 tough to find the first time, but once seen you’ll easily find it again. A recent study of the glow confirms the source of it. While bright comets are fairly rare, small comets are very plentiful, including plenty that graze the sun and evaporate liberating their dust into interplanetary space. After tomorrow night the Moon will interfere for two weeks.

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

Addendum

I could never photograph Zodiacal Light when I wanted to.  However I did catch it inadvertently.

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.

04/04/2013 – Ephemeris – Can you spot Zodiacal Light?

April 4, 2013 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, April 4th.  The sun will rise at 7:17.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 56 minutes, setting at 8:14.   The moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 4:34 tomorrow morning.

After you try to spot Jupiter tonight, or hang around outside at the end of astronomical twilight, about 10 p.m. look to the west at Taurus the bull and Gemini.  Then broaden your gaze.  There will be a very faint triangular glow with broad base at the horizon leaning a bit to the left, with its apex near Jupiter and the V of the face of Taurus the bull and the bright star Aldebaran to the right of Orion.  This glow is called Zodiacal Light, caused by the reflected sunlight off a cloud of dust located in the plane of the solar system.  Most of the large bodies of the solar system orbit the sun in a single plane.  The one exception to this are comets, which orbit at all angles to the sun.  Zodiacal Light is best seen on spring evenings and autumn mornings.

Addendum

It seems the only good photographs of zodiacal light I get is when there’s a comet in that direction.  It happened a year before with Comet Hyakutake.  The images here were taken later in the month when the Hyades and the Pleiades were lower in the sky.

Zodiacal Light and Comet Hale-Bopp April 1997

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

Here’s a black and white image with enhanced contrast.

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

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

 

04/05/11 – Ephemeris – Zodiacal Light

April 5, 2011 Comments off

Tuesday, April 5th.  The sun will rise at 7:16.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 58 minutes, setting at 8:14.   The moon, 2 days past new, will set at 10:45 this evening.

After you spot the moon tonight, hang around outside at the end of astronomical twilight, about 9:37 p.m. look to the west at Taurus the bull and Gemini.  Then broaden your gaze.  There will be a very faint triangular glow with broad base at the horizon leaning a bit to the left, with its apex near the V of the face of Taurus the bull and the bright star Aldebaran to the right of Orion.  This glow is called Zodiacal Light, caused by the reflected sunlight off a cloud of dust located in the plane of the solar system.  Most of the large bodies of the solar system orbit the sun close to a single plane.  The exceptions to this are comets, which orbit at all angles to the sun and Kuiper belt objects.  Zodiacal Light is best seen on spring evenings and autumn mornings.

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

Addendum

Back in 1997 I caught the zodiacal light when I photographed Comet Hale-Bopp.  This was taken later in April when the apex of the zodiacal glow extended almost to Gemini.  Click on the image to enlarge.

 

Zodiacal Light and Comet Hale-Bopp April 1997 I

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

 

Here is an enhanced image in black and white.

 

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

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