|Zodiacal Light from 60° North ~ A sight normally seen from the tropics imaged last night (13th February) from the Shetland Islands, Scotland by Chris Brown. ©Chris Brown, shown with permission.
|The zodiacal light is sunlight scattered by interplanetary dust orbiting the sun in the plane of the planets outwards to the distance of Jupiter and beyond. The dust particles are 0.001 – 0.3 mm across and each is separated by miles from its neighbours.
The light is a soft cone extending upwards along the ecliptic (the plane of Earth’s orbit projected on the sky) an hour or so after sunset or before dawn. The best time to try to see it (it’s no brighter than the Milky Way) is when the ecliptic makes a steep angle to the horizon. This is in Spring after sunset and Autumn before dawn.
The tropics or at least low latitudes are the favoured locations but Chris’s images far north at 60° show that given care and a dark enough sky (he chose a new Moon) it is visible anywhere.
Chris used an Olympus E620, ISO 1600, 11-22mm ZD at 11mm, f/2.8 60s exposure guided on a mini eq GEM.
|The light is concentrated along the ecliptic and is best seen when the latter makes a steep angle to the horizon.|