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Zodiacal Light

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Zodiacal Light. Credit: Sky and Telescope

For two weeks from the 13th of October zodiacal light will readily be visible from a dark site in the east before morning twilight. This is caused by sunlight reflected of the immense cloud of interplanetary dust encircling the Sun.

Dr. Roy Bishop, Emeritus Professor of Physics from Acadia University, writes in the RASC Observer’s Handbook:

The zodiacal light appears as a huge, softly radiant pyramid of white light with its base near the horizon, and its axis centred on the zodiac (or better, the ecliptic). In its brightest parts, it exceeds the luminance of the central Milky Way.

Moonlight, haze or light pollution can easily blot out zodiacal light, so you’ll need a dark sky location to observe it. It is best viewed just after twilight in the east, in the hour to half an hour just before twilight begins at dawn, from about October 13-27.

Charles Ennis

2nd VP RASC