Look up at the solar system's backbone

The Zodiacal Lights are said to be viewable now in the northern hemisphere.

When you see Zodiacal Lights, you’ve seen the backbone of our solar system. Zodical Lights are sunlight reflected from interplanetary dust. The pale glow, therefore, traces the dusty plane through which all planets orbit, known to astronomers as the ecliptic plane. Early spring is the best time to see evening Zodiacal Lights because the ecliptic plane juts over the horizon almost vertically. With no bright moon to interfere until April, now is the time to look!

Source: Spaceweather

We wouldn’t be able to see the lights as we have so much light pollution. Maybe later this week we’ll get a chance to go look for them.

I got a notice on one of the lists also about a project where schoolkids are supposed to go out and check the night sky for light pollution from March 22 to March 29, observing the magnitude limit of the stars in your area. It’s intended for grades 5 to 8 but is good for any age. One can read about it at Globe at Night.

Went through the magnitude charts with H.o.p. and after one viewing he guessed them all correctly. There’s no point in our doing this as we’re already well familiar with the fact we can see virtually nothing in the night sky except the city’s lights. Seriously, we live in the heart of Atlanta. We’re class 9 on the Bortle Scale.

Entire sky is grayish or brighter. Familliar constellations are missing stars. Fainter constellations are absent. Less than 20 stars visible over 30 degrees elevation in brigher areas. Limiting magntude from 3 to 4. Most people don’t look up.

Source: Atlanta Light Pollution Map

It’s obnoxious. Very boring.

By the time you hit class 5, a suburban sky, you’re already permitted only a hint of the zodiacal lights. We’d have to drive a long long way to be able to see the zodiacal lights.

What we did learn via the project was through the links on what kind of lights are low light polluters and which ones are high. Of course, all our street lights around here are high polluters with the globe protruding rather than flat.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

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