Astro photography

Zodiacal Light and Venus

Zodiacal Light and Jupiter, February 23, 2011. What is that pearly wedge of light in the western sky? This photograph was taken about an hour and a half after sunset, so the Sun was too far below the horizon to make twilight, and there aren't any towns in that direction to make the sky glow.

The pale glow in the middle of the photo, stretching down to the horizon is zodiacal light. It is sunlight reflecting off of interplanetary dust particles drifting along Earth's orbital plane. This subtle glow of light is best seen in the spring and autumn of the year, on moonless nights at a location with no light pollution. The bright object in the middle of the photograph is the planet Jupiter, shining at magnitude -2.1.

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Steve Irvine
R.R. # 2
Wiarton, Ontario
Canada N0H 2T0
(519) 534 2175