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Zodiacal Light - our way to see the Solar System

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posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 06:29 AM
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This recent image taken by Yuri Beletsky has captured my attention and made me want to write something about this phenomenon:



Besides just being a very beautiful shot of the night sky, and featuring the Milky Way (our galactic home), this image captures a phenomenon called zodiacal light. It looks like a somewhat triangular white glow that comes up from the horizon in the vicinity of the Sun.

It's been fairly recently established that this glow is mostly created by microscopic dust shed by Jupiter-family comets in the Solar System, with some dust "contributed" by collisions between asteroids.

Zodiacal light, in a way, creates a way for us to see the Solar System, our "home" in space. Apart from the naked-eye planets like Venus, Mars, or Jupiter, as well as the Sun and the Moon, there's very little naked-eye indication that we live in a stellar system that has so much stuff in it. Zodiacal light kinda fills that gap, literally filling the plane of the Solar System with dust that reflects sunlight.

I hope you enjoy this image as much as I do.
edit on 7-4-2018 by wildespace because: (no reason given)




posted on Apr, 10 2018 @ 12:14 AM
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originally posted by: wildespace
Zodiacal light, in a way, creates a way for us to see the Solar System, our "home" in space. Apart from the naked-eye planets like Venus, Mars, or Jupiter, as well as the Sun and the Moon, there's very little naked-eye indication that we live in a stellar system that has so much stuff in it.
If the sun contains something like 99.8% to 99.9% of the mass of our solar system, then maybe the naked eye indication is about right, the sun is the most obvious and has most of the mass. But the rest of the solar system is more interesting to us, especially since some of it includes bodies with water which could harbor life.


Zodiacal light kinda fills that gap, literally filling the plane of the Solar System with dust that reflects sunlight.

I hope you enjoy this image as much as I do.
That's a fantastic image, thanks very much for sharing it!



posted on Apr, 10 2018 @ 01:36 AM
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I remember several of Chesley Bonestell's paintings from the '40s depicting zodiacal light. A GIS didn't turn up much. May have to check my books when I get home.




posted on Apr, 10 2018 @ 01:42 PM
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Seems to lie at about 60º to the Milky way.
A graphic demonstration of our orientation within it.



posted on Apr, 11 2018 @ 03:21 PM
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a reply to: wildespace

thanks for posting. you didn't say what the activity of the dust is. you only said what it consists of (i think?). is it local? sorta like the aurora borealis?
edit on 2018-04-11T15:25:32-05:0003America/Chicago04C-0500Apr-05:00 by tgidkp because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 11 2018 @ 03:32 PM
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This is one of my favorite things to photograph. It's only visible during the fall and spring. This photo was shot in 2016 from northern Georgia (US).



posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 08:57 AM
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originally posted by: tgidkp
a reply to: wildespace

thanks for posting. you didn't say what the activity of the dust is. you only said what it consists of (i think?). is it local? sorta like the aurora borealis?


It's not local, that is to say, not directly associated with Earth. This dust is leftover from the formation of the solar system. It's the stuff that didn't get swept-up or accreted by planets or asteroids. The dust orbits roughly in the plane of the solar system, kind of like micro-mini-asteroids.

Hope this helps.



posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 02:39 PM
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originally posted by: Saint Exupery

originally posted by: tgidkp
a reply to: wildespace

thanks for posting. you didn't say what the activity of the dust is. you only said what it consists of (i think?). is it local? sorta like the aurora borealis?


It's not local, that is to say, not directly associated with Earth. This dust is leftover from the formation of the solar system. It's the stuff that didn't get swept-up or accreted by planets or asteroids. The dust orbits roughly in the plane of the solar system, kind of like micro-mini-asteroids.

Hope this helps.

Actually, the dust actively produced by comets and collisions between asteroids (like I mentioned in my OP). Such fine dust gradually spirals into the Sun due to the Poynting–Robertson effect, so new dust has to be generated to maintain zodiacal cloud.



posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 02:51 PM
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In 2007, Brian May, lead guitarist with the band Queen, completed his PhD thesis A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud 36 years after having started and abandoned it to pursue a career in music. He was able to submit it only because of the minimal amount of research on the topic undertaken during the intervening years. May describes the subject as being one that became "trendy" again in the 2000s.

Wikipedia entry


That is pretty good trivia to know! And might I suggest that it might make a good album title too!

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