Make the effort to visit a rural area with dark skies – and admire the haunting, fragile beauty of zodiacal light

Early autumn is one of the best times to see the zodiacal light. This is a glow in the sky caused by sunlight scattering off dust in our solar system. The dust comes from the tails of comets and the occasional collision between asteroids; some may even date to the formation of the solar system, when Earth was taking shape. It lies in the same plane as the planets, which is known as the ecliptic. In the autumn, the ecliptic climbs upwards from the eastern horizon, making the zodiacal light easier to see before dawn. The chart shows the eastern sky at 05:00 BST on 10 September. The zodiacal light will appear as a roughly triangular shaped wedge of milky light that climbs into the sky along the ecliptic.

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