Wondering about wild grapes

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Zodiacal Light

How many of you have seen the Zodiacal Light? How many of you know what it is?

First, let me say that there is disc of interplanetary dust surrounding the Sun that stretches from the Sun’s corona to the Kuiper Belt and beyond. The inner part (out to the asteroid belt) of this cloud of dust is called zodiacal dust.

As stated in Astronomy magazine, “The zodiacal light glows in the shape of a huge pyramid above Earth’s horizon. The light arises from sunlight reflecting off dust grains in our solar system’s zodiacal cloud.”

You can see this with the naked eye. Of course, a dark site is the best, since it does not shine extremely bright. It sort of looks like a bright city just over the horizon on a hazy night. But to see the zodiacal light, it must be clear and dark.

Take a look some evening or morning if you can see the horizon where no city is located. It would be located near where the sun sets and rises. You must look just before dawn while it is still dark or in the evening just after it gets dark.


  1. In the '50's, on the farm, about 35 miles south of Houston, we could see the mirage of a city which had to be Houston! It was unbelieveable! It was like you could walk there! Like those summer time hill country mirages that look like water on the hi-way, some of those are one cloud hail storms! If you hit that blanket of hail on the road going fast, you just bought the farm!

  2. I experienced that twice ( that I recall) First time was off shore Galveston on a big ole Shrimp boat, second time was in somewhere in the Pacific coming back one evening while on deck

  3. Must work best with no hills...I have never seen it but am now looking.

  4. Fred, when I was living near Justin, TX one morning as the sun was coming up it projected the skyline of Dallas on the mist in the sky. Thought I was seeing things but my wife saw it, also. Strange, it was an hours drive to Dallas.

    Ben, I would think that being out to sea would be a perfect place to see the Zodiacal Lights.

    Fran, flat is better but if the conditions are right, hills don't matter. Now, mountains are a different story.

    Don't forget, it has to be dark and clear to see it.