When Hemispheres Connect

This Image of the Week is a composite panorama of the entire night sky taken from the platforms of Gemini South in Chile (left) and Gemini North in Hawai‘i (right). These two telescopes comprise the International Gemini Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab. The bright white band streaking from left to right is zodiacal light, created by sunlight scattering off interplanetary dust dispersed throughout the Solar System. This light appears along the pathway of the Sun and planets across the sky, known as the ecliptic, and it's so bright that it can easily be mistaken for light pollution on a dark night. The bright patch of light at the center of the image is directly opposite the Sun in the sky. This spot is the Gegenschein. On the left side of the image you can zoom in to see a rising Jupiter along with Venus (brightest spot on the left), Mars, and Saturn in the middle of the zodiacal light.

The dust that produces the zodiacal light and Gegenschein comes from a variety of sources, including comet tails and asteroid collisions. Interestingly, Mars may actually produce a large portion of this dust as it sheds its atmosphere, based on recent studies.

This photo was taken as part of the recent NOIRLab 2022 Photo Expedition to all the NOIRLab sites.


NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/ P. Horálek (Institute of Physics in Opava), T. Slovinský

About the Image

Release date:June 22, 2022, 10:15 a.m.
Size:28565 x 6098 px

About the Object

Name:Zodiacal light
Category:Gemini Observatory

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