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Skywatch: Look for the zodiacal light

You might be able to see the "false dawn" this week.
The First Quarter Moon

We’ll welcome the First Quarter Moon early on Monday. It’ll officially arrive at 5:23 a.m. This means the moon will steadily brighten throughout the week.

Look for False Dawn

If you’re out early in the week and the moon has set you can look for something known as false dawn. The zodiacal light can be seen about an hour or so before daybreak.

It looks a bit like a pyramid of light stretching into the sky. What you’re seeing is dust particles getting lit up by the sun. Those fall along the orbital plane which is the plane upon which the Earth, the rest of the planets, asteroids, etc. orbit the Sun.

You’ll need a dark spot, far away from city lights to see the zodiacal light.

South Taurid Fireballs

The South Taurid meteor shower is expected to peak this week as well on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. The meteor shower lasts for a long time and some even called for the peak last month.

Comet 2P/Encke is responsible for the shower and even though this isn’t a prolific shower (you’re lucky to see 5-7 meteors an hour) it is well known for fireballs; bright meteors that streak across the sky.

The radiant of the shower will be high in the eastern sky around and after midnight on Wednesday morning. You’ll need a dark spot, far away from the city to get the best view.

Mars Meets Spica

Mars will meet up with Spica in the mornings this week. Spica is the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo and it’s one of the brighter stars in the sky. Look for the two in the eastern sky before sunrise. Happy hunting!