The Sun's Trailing Halo Of Shining Dust, Seen After Sunset

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This image isn't a far-off galaxy or comet — it's space dust right in our backyard. You're seeing the zodiacal light, a triangle of glowing space dust between the Earth and the Sun, briefly visible after sunset.

The zodiacal light is only visible just after sunset in skies without strong moonlight or light pollution. According to the European Southern Observatory, which snapped this picture in Chile:

The zodiacal light is sunlight reflected by dust particles between the Sun and Earth, and is best seen close to sunrise or sunset. As its name implies, this celestial glow appears in the ring of constellations known as the zodiac. These are found along the ecliptic, which is the eastward apparent "path" that the Sun traces across Earth's sky.


A huge-sized version of the image is available at the link. [European Southern Observatory]