Zodiacal Light and Meteors


The Zodiacal Light will be visible the next 2 ½ weeks starting now. I've watched them many times in February and March when I look in the west after sunset.  But this is a morning event that I've never seen. It occurs in the east before sunrise and lights up the sky. It occurs in September and October, but only when the moon isn't shining.

You'll see a tall dim pyramid stretching up from the ground. Since the new moon is on Oct. 6, the sky will be very dark and easy to find them.  You just have to get up early while the sky is still dark around 5 a.m.

This occurs from sunlight reflected and scattered by dust in or near the ecliptic, which is the plane defined by earth's orbit around the Sun. Since the full moon is on Oct. 20, this is the only time to go out and look for them.

Unfortunately, the Orionid meteor shower peaks on Oct. 21, so with the full moon the day before, we won't be able to see them at their peak. The good thing is that they run from Oct. 2 until Nov. 7. So, when you go out to see the Zodiacal light, look in the SW to see if you see any meteors. Unfortunately we most likely are only able to see one, but it's better than not seeing any.

Because of the cloudy sky on Sept. 11, the Lookout Mountain Observatory was only able to have the meeting with no star gazing. So, we've decided to have it on Oct. 2, and hopefully the sky will stay clear so we can go out and view the sky. The meeting will be at 7 at the Rio Grande County Courthouse Annex at 965 6th St., in Del Norte, followed by the star party at the Del Norte observatory which is just behind the courthouse and up a little mountain. If you come, don't forget to bring a flashlight to climb the mountain safely.