Zodiacal Light in September

September 26, 2003


Provided and copyright by: Dominic Cantin
Summary authors & editors: Dominic Cantin; Jim Foster

The above photo was taken in Quebec, Canada, before dawn, in early September and shows the elusive zodiacal light passing through the constellation of Gemini (lower center of photo). This wedge shaped band of light stretches from near the horizon, at bottom center, toward the upper right portion of the photo. Zodiacal light results from the scattering of sunlight by myriad particles in the plane of our solar system (plane of the ecliptic). These particles, ranging in size from meter-sized chunks to micron-sized dust grains, seem most dense around the immediate vicinity of the Sun but are spread out along the plane of the ecliptic, which is the path the Sun follows throughout the year. In the mid latitudes, the zodiacal light is best observed before dawn in late summer and early fall and after dusk in late winter and early spring.

The reddish glow hugging the horizon is due to an aurora. Orion is at lower right. Note the Gaseous Nebula, just below Orion's belt. The brightest object in Gemini is Saturn.

Photo details: 16mm fisheye lens at f 3.5, 10 minute exposure, "piggybacked" on EQ-3 motorized mount, Fuji Superia 800.

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