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Posted: September 17, 2017

False Dawn

Road building under The Milky Way, near Panorama. Click to enlarge – Photos by Bob Ede

By Bob Ede

Now the smoke is clearing we can get back to stargazing in clear dark skies.

September is a wonderful month for pointing the camera at the sky. This is the time of year zodiacal light can sometimes be seen in the east a few hours before the sun comes up.

It is a seasonal phenomenon that never ceases to amaze. In the spring it can be seen on the western horizon after the sun goes down and in fall in the east before the sun comes up. It is called false dusk or false dawn depending on the season.

Zodiacal light appears as a pyramid of illumination. It is caused by sunlight reflecting off dust grains that circle the sun in the inner solar system.

It is remarkably beautiful, yet strange at the same time. In the spring it can make one think the sun is going to come back up in the west well after the sun is down. Did the earth just reverse its spin?

During fall zodiacal light can make you think the sun is going to come up three hours earlier than expected. There have been many reports of people lost and cold in the bush thinking dawn was near, only having to painfully endure the morning not breaking as expected.

It is best seen in dark clear skies without a moon and away from artificial light. With luck the skies will remain clear. There has to be some cold crisp weather coming our way!

Zodiacal Light with Jupiter and The Beehive.

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My apologies for crediting the song Homegrown Tomatoes to John Prine in my last column. Of course it was written by the great Guy Clark. My thanks to OBWankinobee for setting the record straight.

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Bob Ede and Willow the Wire-Haired Dachshund are thrilled to be back in the bush after the backcountry ban. Bob can be reached at: [email protected]


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