Zodiacal Light Observed Around the World

December 07, 2021


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Photographer: Wei-Chun Lin; Orazio Mezzio

Summary Author: Wei-Chun Lin; Cadan Cummings

These spectacular night sky images showcase a phenomenon called zodiacal light from Taiwan (top photo) and Italy (bottom photo). Zodiacal light is a faint atmospheric glow that is most visible in the sky within two to three hours before sunrise or after sunset. This intriguing sight is the result of dust particles in the inner solar system that reflect sunlight in the direction of Earth. Although the cause of zodiacal light was primarily believed to be reflection of light from small fragments left behind from asteroids and comets, recent observations from the NASA Juno spacecraft suggest that Mars dust dislodged during planetary storms has partially moved into the inner solar system and could be a contributing factor. The top picture was taken near Sandiao Cape Lighthouse, the easternmost place of Taiwan, in mid-October 2021. In contrast, the bottom photo was taken near Sortino, Italy on April 22, 2021.