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Stunning zodiacal light spotted above Mt. Washington in New Hampshire

A view of the zodiacal light spotted Wednesday morning from the Mt. Washington Observatory.Mount Washington Observatory

Here’s some light reading.

A stunning zodiacal light was spotted in the sky early Wednesday from Mount Washington in New Hampshire, according to the Mount Washington Observatory.

“The zodiacal light before sunrise this morning and the view shortly after sunrise this morning,” the observatory wrote on Facebook.

Ryan Knapp, a staff meteorologist at the observatory who captured images of the light, had written about the phenomenon in a 2017 blog post.

“The Zodiacal Light occurs twice a year; for the northern hemisphere it is seen after dusk in the spring and before dawn in the autumn,” Knapp wrote at the time.

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“Since it is autumn, this means it is visible during astronomical dawn and a bit into nautical dawn or in simpler terms, 90 to 180 minutes prior to sunrise,” Knapp wrote. “It appears as a hazy pyramid of dim light in the eastern skies and for NH and New England, it will tilt southward (at the equator it shoots straight up and in the southern hemisphere is leans north).”

According to NASA, the zodiacal light is “prominent in the west after sunset during planet Earth’s northern hemisphere spring.”

It describes the phenomenon as “sunlight scattered by interplanetary dust particles that lie near the Solar System’s ecliptic plane. Of course all the Solar System’s planets orbit near the plane of the ecliptic, within the band of zodiacal light.”

But zodiacal light and Mars, NASA said on its website, may share a deeper connection.

“A recent analysis of serendipitous detections of interplanetary dust by the Juno spacecraft during its Earth to Jupiter voyage suggest Mars is the likely source of the dust that produces zodiacal light,” the website said.



Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.