light

Zodiacal light shining behind the Faulkes Telescope North on Maui – Rob Ratkowksi, University of Hawaii High Altitude Observatory

Early evening. A pyramid-shaped light in the west as darkness falls. What is it?

This is the zodiacal light.

Tonight – and for several weeks – look for this mysterious light effect in the Northern Hemisphere while the Moon is rising later. A dark sky away from city lights, one or two hours after sunset  and being further south in the Northern Hemisphere’s temperate zone, gives you the best chance of spotting it.

I have never seen this eerie light or the Northern Lights and both are on my list.

According to earthsky.org, this zodiacal light is caused by sunlight reflecting off interplanetary dust particles that orbit the sun within the inner solar system. In the mid-northern latitudes, we might see the light because the ecliptic (the approximate plane of the solar system) is nearly perpendicular to the horizon on March/April evenings.

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