Image: Luis Argerich
The sky is often a magical place where some of the greatest wonders of the universe are revealed – from the twinkling stars that dot the vast black velvet canvas above, to the ethereal Moon shining in the distance. But of the many phenomena that brighten the night-time heavens, there is one that does so in a truly magnificent way: zodiacal light. By way of proof, here are some of the most astonishing photos of zodiacal light appearing over the world’s mountaintops.
Zodiacal light is characterized by a glowing strip that shoots upward from the skyline following sunset, but it can also be seen immediately preceding sunrise. In this eye-catching photograph, the light strip carves through a spectacular reddish-orange sky that’s further brightened by the Milky Way, the Magellanic Clouds and light pollution.
Image: Mark Gee
Zodiacal light is dramatically captured here from Cape Palliser on New Zealand’s North Island. Notice how, despite the variety of colors in the image, the zodiacal light retains its soft, white glow. This is due to it coming from beyond Earth’s wavelength-scattering atmosphere.
Image: Leonardo Orazi
In the U.S., zodiacal light begins to appear in springtime, after the Sun has disappeared over the western horizon and twilight has faded away. In fall, however, the light beats the Sun to shining, as it can be seen in the early hours before dawn.