CHRIS COOK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CHRIS COOK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Zodiacal light seen before sunrise. The phenomenon is also known as a false dawn. It appears as a cone of light extending up from the horizon along the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun through the sky. It is caused by reflection of the Sun's light off tiny dust particles in the plane of the solar system. The light is very faint, and is only visible on very dark, moonless nights. Zodiacal light is also visible to the west just after sunset. A related phenomenon, the gegenschein, or counterglow, is the brightest region of zodiacal light seen at the point in the sky directly opposite the Sun.
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