Zodiacal Light

The bane of every astronomer's existence.
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Christopher K.
Posts: 4637
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Zodiacal Light

Post by Christopher K. » February 23rd, 2012, 12:19 pm

The image shown on the APOD page today is the first actual picture I've ever seen of the zodiacal light. Jack Fusco took it Monday evening in Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania.

The zodiacal light is a tilted tower or pyramid of faint illumination seen in the west after sunset or in the east before sunrise. Some times of the year are better than others to attempt to see it, namely those times when the ecliptic makes a wide angle with the horizon at sunset or sunrise. That makes sense, since it's been determined that this glow is nothing less than sunlight being reflected by dust particles along the ecliptic!

Perhaps the zodiacal light can be seen as the pinnacle--the "golden ring"--in the good fight to eradicate light pollution. Can one imagine how incredible it would be to see the pyramid rising up in the west over Baton Rouge after sunset?

The image:
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120223.html

More information:
Seeing the Sky by Fred Schaaf, pp. 194-196.
http://www.daviddarling.info/encycloped ... light.html
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observin ... 87266.html
http://www.as.wvu.edu/~jel/skywatch/skw9810h.html

Christopher K.
Posts: 4637
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Zodiacal Light

Post by Christopher K. » September 13th, 2015, 9:55 pm

From now until, say, the 26th is probably the best time from our latitude to search for that elusive tilted cone of light jutting up from the eastern horizon. Try the morning hours whenever the Moon is "out of the picture". It's definitely fainter than the Milky Way.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4637
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Zodiacal Light

Post by Christopher K. » October 11th, 2015, 7:06 pm

Jane Houston Jones created an observing countdown for "What's Up for October 2015". She states her number one choice is the Zodiacal light. I guess that means she's seen it. I hope to see it one day.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4637
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Zodiacal Light

Post by Christopher K. » October 14th, 2015, 10:15 pm

The Zodiacal Light hunt can take place at least until the 25th of 26th of October (the Moon stays out of the morning sky until then). If one can find a very dark area, one should look for Venus, Mars and Jupiter in the east. If conditions are right, the Light will stretch up from those planets toward Gemini. Look two hours to ninety minutes before sunrise.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4637
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Zodiacal Light

Post by Christopher K. » February 1st, 2017, 7:44 pm

Zodiacal Light season is soon upon us. Venus and Mars can't eradicate our light pollution but for the next few weeks they will mark where the "glow cone" should be seen with no light pollution. Jane Houston Jones recommends late February and March.

As we say goodbye to Eugene Cernan, take a look at some of his sketches; they show he actually may have seen the Zodiacal Light from space...
http://www.planetary.org/multimedia/spa ... nrise.html

Christopher K.
Posts: 4637
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Zodiacal Light

Post by Christopher K. » March 12th, 2018, 3:44 pm

The hunt for the Zodiacal Light continues for many, at least through the end of the month. BRAS will soon be making friendly inquiries to LSU, Southern and BRCC concerning the possibility of those campuses going uniformly FCO.

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