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zodiacal light & gegenschein

Zodiacal Light, Zodiacal Band, and Gegenschein
Image: NASA/Yuri Beletsky

Zodiacal Light, Zodiacal Band, and Gegenschein

If it's the right time of year and the sky is dark, you might see these related optical phenomena. They occur when light reflects off space dust and appears along the Sun's path traced across the sky.

The zodiacal light shines as a dispersed triangle and the band stretches toward the gegenschein (German for “counter shine”), occurring opposite the Sun.

Atmospheric Optics
Quest for a Comet

Quest for a Comet

Comets are a huge source of the interplanetary dust that scatters light and creates zodiacal light and gegenschein. In this game, you’ll join the robotic Rosetta mission to land on and study a comet. More...

Game
NASA
Rare ‘Zodiacal Light’ Visible in Night Sky

Rare ‘Zodiacal Light’ Visible in Night Sky

The dust particles that make up the zodiacal light can’t be resolved in a telescope. But their faint light can be seen by the naked eye — only under the best conditions at certain times of the year. More...

Article
Space.com
Studying Comet Contents

Studying Comet Contents

NASA’s Stardust Mission captured dust from the comet Wild-2. The dust contained an amino acid, a building block of life. What does this mean? Listen as astronomer Don Brownlee explains. More...

Profile
NPR/Science Friday
Zodiacal Light Time-Lapse

Zodiacal Light Time-Lapse

Zodiacal light is difficult to see, but here’s a time-lapse video from a great, dark vantage point in Chile. Zero in on the faint, glowing triangular patch. More...

Video
European Southern Observatory
Panorama of the Chilean Night Sky

Panorama of the Chilean Night Sky

Gegenschein, best seen in the tropics, becomes fainter in higher latitudes. But we can get a glimpse of it in this interactive panorama from Chile. Click the QuickTime at right to open it. More...

Interactive
European Southern Observatory
The Outer Planets: Dust and Plasma

The Outer Planets: Dust and Plasma

Zodiacal light and gegenschein are caused by interplanetary dust particles. Where does the dust come from and why does it accumulate in certain areas? And what is plasma? More...

Article
LASP
Zodiacal Light and the Gegenschein

Zodiacal Light and the Gegenschein

If you live in a place with little light pollution and you like to get up very early in the morning, you might have a chance to see zodiacal light and gegenschein. Follow these tips. More...

Activity
West Virginia University

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