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Milky Way vs. Zodiacal Light above Libyan Desert

By: Tunc Tezel

 

Region: Africa

Site: El Agheila - Libya

Date: 2011 January 6

An all-sky image from a flat desert in northern Libya. The Milky Way from Cygnus (northwest, right) to Orion and Gemini (east, left) rivals with the Zodiacal Light (sunlight reflected from dust in the plane of the Solar System) in the west (lower right). Also notable are the setting crescent moon at western horizon and bright planet Jupiter at the tip of the elongated zodiacal light along the ecliptic. All stars of Summer Triangle (Deneb, Vega, Altair) and Winter Triangle (Betelgeuse, Procyon, Sirius) are simultaneously visible, which happens for a brief time window of half an hour. As noted by the photographer "This place in Libyan desert, about 25km south of the coastal city of El Agheila (the light dome in the upper right), is nearly perfectly flat and a few meters below the sea level. It is so flat that the apparent horizon perfectly matches the horizon line defined by my planetarium software! I could see southern stars that rise just a bit above the southern horizon of this latitude. Achernar (Alpha star in Eridanus and most southern star of the constellation) was visible just 3 degrees over south." Compare this view with its southern hemisphere counterpart taken 6 months earlier. Tunc Tezel

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