Zodiacal Light from Brazil

September 18, 2005


Provided by: Fabiano Diniz
Summary authors & editors: Fabiano Diniz; Jim Foster

The above photo shows a 4-minute exposure of a phenomenon known as the zodiacal light. It was captured on July 3, 2005, from Sao Luis do Puruna, Parana, in southern Brazil. During an unseasonably dry period here in Parana, I drove to a location where I could be assured of having dark skies. On this moonless and cloudless night, I was pleased to be able to see the zodiacal light, which is a faint, triangular shaped patch of light, typically visible extending perhaps 20-30 degrees above the horizon along the ecliptic (the plane of the Earth's orbit around the Sun). It was so dark (clear) on this particular night that I was able to detect the nebulous wedge of light up to 60 degrees above the horizon! The Zodiacal Light is caused by sunlight reflecting off of interplanetary dust and meteoric particles. In the mid latitudes, it's best seen an hour or so after sunset in early winter and before sunrise in early fall.

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