Zodiacal Light from La Palma, Spain

December 20, 2011

GranTeCan Zodiacal Light

Photographer: Alex Cherney
Summary Authors: Alex Cherney; Greg Parker; Jim Foster

The time-exposed image above shows the zodiacal light as observed at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain on the evening of June 27, 2011. The zodiacal light is the wedge-shaped swatch spreading just above the horizon, at the lower center, to the upper left -- its axis extends through the constellations of the zodiac. This dimly lit area of the sky is scattered sunlight from myriad dust particles that lie between the Sun and Earth. It's easiest to detect after sunset in early spring and before sunrise in autumn (in the Northern Hemisphere), because at these times the ecliptic is steeply pitched with respect to the horizon, and so its light is more obvious. However, from darkened locations having an unobstructed view of the horizon, it can be seen at other times of the year as well.

Photo Details: Nikon D700 camera; Nikkor 14-24mm; f/2.8; 14mm lens; 7x30 second exposure; ISO 3200; stationary tripod mount; Stacking and sky de-rotation in DeepSkyStacker; further processing in Adobe Photoshop CS5.