Twice a year the night sky casts an ethereal glow known as the zodiacal light. It’s an equinox thing, occurring only in fall and spring.
This weekend there’s a new moon, which takes some of the excess light from the sky. One must wait for “astronomical darkness,” which is when the sun and its rays have disappeared completely from the night sky, to see the zodiacal light. Or you could watch below so you know what to look for.
“This timelapse movie shows how the zodiacal light became visible as the sky was approaching towards its astronomical darkness state,” photographer and videographer Justin Ng explains in the notes to this video that he took in the Southern Hemisphere during its autumnal equinox.
He traveled in 2012 to Mount Bromo in Indonesia, where he took the shots that became this breathtaking video. Having fallen in love with the mountains and the stellar backdrop, the astrophotographer began leading expeditions there as well, recounting the trip at Space.com.
For those of us not versed in detection of the delicate and rare sight, it takes some careful gazing, and an absence of light. It has to be a really, really dark sky in order to catch the faint glow that is “reflected from millions of tiny interplanetary particles,” Space.com points out.
“Fainter than the Milky Way, this is only visible in really dark skies,” Space.com says. “The Milky Way arches from southwest to northwest, while the zodiacal light rises straight up from the western horizon underneath Jupiter.”
“Look for a milky-white cone of light to jut upward from the western horizon, pointing toward the planet Jupiter, the brightest star-like object in the evening sky,” Earthsky.org guides us. “Given a dark sky, you may see the zodiacal light about 80 to 120 minutes after sunset.”
Below, we leave you with another video of the dormant volcanoes with a backdrop of glorious planets and the Milky Way.