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Out Of Mind » SOLAR & PLANETARY ALERTS & INFO » ATMOSPHERIC CHANGES » Rare ‘Zodiacal Light’ will be visible in night sky soon

Rare ‘Zodiacal Light’ will be visible in night sky soon

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Rare ‘Zodiacal Light’ will be visible in night sky soon

Posted on March 8, 2013 by The Extinction Protocol

March 8, 2012SPACEThe
solar system’s small bodies have been often in the news lately. There
are currently two bright comets in the southern sky, one of which, Comet
C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) will soon be moving into the northern sky. An
asteroid named 2012 DA14 recently passed close to the Earth. There have
been two bright meteors in the past month, one in Russia and one in
California. But these types of bodies aren’t the smallest relics of the
solar system visible from here on Earth. A rare and hard to spot
phenomenon called the Zodiacal Light, made from tiny solar system dust
particles, can only be sighted under the best conditions. And a good
time to view it is coming up soon. Most stargazers are unaware that they
can actually see this interplanetary dust, when conditions are right.
In some ways this disk of interplanetary dust is similar in appearance
to the Milky Way. The glow of the Milky Way is the result of the
combined light of millions of stars too faint to be resolved by the
unaided eye. The interplanetary dust disk, called the Zodiacal Light, is
the result of millions of dust particles too faint to be resolved.
Unlike the Milky Way, which can be resolved with a telescope, the
particles that make up the Zodiacal Light are too small to be resolved
by any optical instrument. There are only a few windows of opportunity
during the year to see the Zodiacal Light, and one of these is coming up
over the next couple of weeks. One factor is that the moon will move
out of the evening sky, leaving it darker and making fainter objects
more easy to spot. A second factor is that the ecliptic, where the
Zodiacal Light is brightest, will be perpendicular to the horizon in the
early evening in the northern hemisphere. Wait until the sky is
completely free of scattered light from the sun, at least an hour and a
half after sunset. First of all, choose an observing location with a
very dark sky. It must be dark enough that the Milky Way is easily
visible, because the Zodiacal Light is fainter than the Milky Way. At
this time of year in the northern hemisphere, the Milky Way is setting
in the northwest in the early evening, marked by Cassiopeia and Cygnus.
The ecliptic, marked with a green line in the chart, is due west,
passing through the faint constellation of Pisces. In a dark sky, you
will see the Zodiacal Light and the Milky Way as two distinct but very
faint objects. The Milky Way gets wider and brighter higher in the sky,
while the Zodiacal Light gets narrower and fainter. The first is a band,
the second a cone. If you succeed in spotting the Zodiacal Light over
the next few weeks, you will have observed one of the rarest phenomena
in the night sky. -MNN

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