Zodiacal light and "opposition" over the Very Large Telescope

Zodiacal light and

A panoramic view of the night sky over the Very Large Telescope in Chile demonstrates several interesting objects: the Milky Way, the Magellan Clouds, the zodiacal light and the confrontation

The resulting panoramic view from Cerro Paranal in the Chilean Atacama Desert, where the Very Large Telescope is located, shows an almost 360-degree view of the night sky. You may notice some interesting objects.

Let's start from left to right. We are met by the bright star Canopus and two neighboring galaxies of the Milky Way - the Large and the Small Magellan Clouds. The Milky Way's galactic hand is located beyond the horizon, and the zodiacal light (sunlight reflected by interstellar dust) illuminates the sky behind the Antu telescope (one of the four components of the Very Large Telescope).

Next to Yepun (the last telescope on the right), the diffuse scattered light from the Andromeda Galaxy is clearly visible. Near the horizon on the right is the Pleiades star cluster (next to the silhouette of the tower). At the top right you can find another diffuse atmospheric glow, called “opposition” - a weak brightening of the night sky in the area opposite the Sun. It resembles the zodiacal light, as it is created by sunlight, scattering particles in space. But confrontation is weaker, because light particles scatter back, bouncing off dust particles outside of Earth's orbit and returning back to our planet.

A faint orange light just above the horizon is an airy glow. Unlike previous phenomena, it is the result of chemical processes within the Earth’s atmosphere. UV rays from the sun charge molecules like oxygen and nitrogen. When they collide, energy is released in the form of photons.

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