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Zodiacal Light

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#1 Special Ed

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 01:24 PM

Hello Everyone,

I was out last night looking at M1 while waiting for Comet C/2012 K5 (LINEAR) to rise above the mountain and out of the soup. About 5:00 AM local time I figured that the comet would be high enough to observe and sketch and prepared to turn the scope around from the west to the NE (the comet is in Bootes).

When I turned around I saw a pillar of light rising almost straight up a good 60° above my observatory's eastern wall--the zodiacal light.

Fall is a good time to see this phenomenon but you'll need dark skies. It was very transparent this morning, too. Look about 90 minutes beore sunrise. Good luck!

#2 cliff mygatt

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 10:31 AM

I have seen the zodiacal ligth as well. It is lovely and sometime puzzling if you don't know what it is! Thanks for sharing.

#3 csa/montana


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Posted 23 November 2012 - 10:35 AM

Thanks for the report; how exciting these surprises are when we are observing!

#4 City Kid

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 10:49 AM

The first time I was under skies that were dark enough to see the Zodiacal Light I didn't realize what I was seeing. I thought it was the funniest looking light dome I had ever seen. It was only later that I found out what it was.

#5 Skylook123



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Posted 23 November 2012 - 01:26 PM

At the Grand Canyon Star Party, the zodiacal light at sunset can be quite profound, looking like a roman candle or city light polution where no habitation exists. The high altitude really accentuates the effect. When I do constellation tours after sunset, it is easy to point out the zodiacal constellations right along the path of the light.

This time of year here it's a pre-sunrise phenomenon, but from early March to late June, its quite a show for about 90 minutes after sunset.

#6 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 01:55 PM

You know that you're at a really dark site when you can see the gegenschein, and especially the elusive zodiacal band, as well.


Dave Mitsky

#7 csa/montana


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Posted 23 November 2012 - 02:03 PM

Nice link, Dave.

#8 lintonius


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Posted 23 November 2012 - 11:36 PM

Thanks for reminding me, Ed! I got a nice view of it around 3:30 to 4:00 last night, before Venus rose. I usually take a look out the upstairs windows, if I get up in the night for 'other matters', but Venus has been so dominant in the SE lately that I hadn't noticed yet.

It extended up to around Leo's underbelly and was bright enough for even my wife to notice. She thought it looked like a wizard's hat. I took advantage of her momentary interest and explained the phenomenon, the ecliptic, the plane of our solar system, and even our location in the Milky Way and how that effects our galactic view in the winter vs. the summer.
I have to get in as much as I can when I have her attention! :lol: She does really enjoy our dark sky here in southern Utah - nearly as much as I do! :jump:

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