Gegenschein

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The gegenschein in a fish-eye view of the night sky above the Paranal Observatory.
The Gegenschein is seen in this image as a brightening in the band running diagonally from the top left to lower right.

Gegenschein (German pronunciation: [ˈɡeːɡənʃaɪn] German for "countershine") is a faint brightening of the night sky in the region of the antisolar point.

Explanation[edit]

Like the zodiacal light, the gegenschein is sunlight backscattered by interplanetary dust. Most of this dust is orbiting the Sun in about the ecliptic plane, with a possible concentration of particles at the L2 Earth–Sun Lagrangian point.[1]

It is distinguished from zodiacal light by its high angle of reflection of the incident sunlight on the dust particles. It forms a slightly more luminous, oval glow directly opposite the Sun within the band of luminous zodiacal light. The intensity of the gegenschein is (relatively) enhanced, because each dust particle is seen in full phase.[2]

History[edit]

The gegenschein was first described by the French Jesuit astronomer and professor Esprit Pezenas (fr) (1692–1776) in 1730.[3] Further observations were made by the German explorer Alexander von Humboldt during his South American journey from 1799 to 1803.[3] It was also Humboldt who gave the phenomenon its German name Gegenschein.[3]

The Danish astronomer Theodor Brorsen published the first thorough investigations of the gegenschein in 1854. He was also the first to observe that the zodiacal light can embrace the complete sky, because under near-perfect conditions, a feeble light bridge connecting the zodiacal light and the gegenschein can be observed.[citation needed] Besides, Brorsen had already proposed the correct explanation for the gegenschein (interplanetary dust reflections).

In modern times, the gegenschein is not visible in most inhabited regions of the world due to light pollution.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kopal, Zdeněk (June 14, 1962). "Communications on the Moon". New Scientist (291): 573. 
  2. ^ Levasseur-Regourd, Anny-Chantal; Hiroichi Hasegawa (1991). Origin and Evolution of Interplanetary Dust. International Astronomical Union Colloquium. p. 159. ISBN 0-7923-1365-8. 
  3. ^ a b c Sheehan, William (1995). The immortal fire within: the life and work of Edward Emerson Barnard. Cambridge University Press. pp. 69–70. ISBN 0-521-44489-6. 

External links[edit]