Zodiacal light

Star gazing in Sinai

The Zodiacal light is visible as the band of light that is inclined with respect to the Milky Way by about 40-50 degrees. The planet Venus is also visible in this photo.

If you are away from cities and sources of light pollution and preferably above 1000 m to escape the humidity and dust trapped in the lower atmosphere, you have a chance of seeing the Zodiacal light.

After sunset as darkness falls, look for a faint pyramid of light in the west spreading upward over a large area of the sky, stretching from where the sun set, up along the ecliptic. Near its base at the horizon it can be as broad as two hand-widths. It can only be seen in the absence of the moon.

This Zodiacal light is produced by sunlight reflecting off the dust particles that lie in the interplanetary disc, constantly fed by the dust of passing comets.

This blog first appeared as a story for the Cairo BCA Magazine in March, 2010, to promote star gazing in the Sinai with an 8″ Meade LX90 Telescope.

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