|An unusual triangle of light is visible this time of year just before dawn,
in the northern hemisphere.
Once considered a false dawn, this triangle of light is actually
zodiacal light, light reflected from
interplanetary dust particles.
The bright reflecting triangle is clearly visible on the right of the
above horizontally-compressed image taken just after sunset from
Namibia in the southern hemisphere in 2009 June.
band of our
Milky Way Galaxy on the left first mirrors the zodiacal band on the right but then curves around the sky.
The faint smudges inside the arch of the Milky Way are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds
orbits the Sun
predominantly in the same plane as the planets: the
Zodiacal light is so bright in the north this time of year because the
dust band is oriented
nearly vertical at sunrise, so that the thick air near the
horizon does not block
out relatively bright reflecting dust.
Zodiacal light is also bright for
in Earth's northern hemisphere in March and April just after sunset.
In the southern hemisphere,
zodiacal light is most
notable after sunset in late summer,
and brightest before sunrise in late spring.
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