The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

The Zodiacal Light and Some Other Things

Last night I was at a star party in very rural Arizona where it is very dark. I didn’t have a lot of time for photography, but I had to get the Zodiacal Light after sunset.

Zodiacal LightThat nice vertical pillar of white is the Zodiacal Light. The Zodiacal Light is caused by sunlight reflecting off of dust in the plane of our solar system. Since this dust is in the plane of our solar system, it shows up along the ecliptic (or Zodiac). The ecliptic is almost vertical with respect to the horizon at sunset for people in the northern hemisphere at this time of year so the light really stands out.

But there are some other interesting things in this image. The Pleaides stand out near the top and above the pole on the right you can see the faint smudge that is the Andromeda Galaxy. In the middle of the image about 2/3 of the way up is a small streak. I checked for satellites in the area and there now no bright passes (or Iridium flares) so this is probably a meteor. At the bottom you can see a curved line. That is clearly a jet (I sat it naked eye as well) probably training at the Yuma Proving Grounds.

I was just going to post this on flickr (which I did) and wasn’t planning on a blog entry until I did a little closer inspection and started realizing all the other stuff that I captured.

February 27, 2014 Posted by | Astrophotography, Zodiacal Light | | Leave a comment