Milky Way and zodiacal light

Which one looks brighter to you? One is the combined light of many stars. The other is the light of our own star, the sun, reflecting on grains of dust.

Milky Way, left. Zodiacal light, right. Looks to me like the zodiacal light is brighter. What do you think? Photo taken in March 2017 by Yuri Beletsky Nightscapes.

Yuri Beletsky, who is based in Chile, posted this wonderful photo of the Milky Way and the zodiacal light to EarthSky Facebook. The Milky Way is, of course, the edgewise view into our own galaxy. We see it as the combined light of billions of years, interspersed by dark clouds of dust in which new stars are forming. The zodiacal light, meanwhile, is part of our own solar system. It’s sunlight reflecting on dust grains that move between the planets, in the flat solar system plane.

Two very different night sky phenomena, both very beautiful. Thank you, Yuri!

Read more: What is the zodiacal light?

Read more: How long to orbit the Milky Way’s center?

Deborah Byrd