Interplanetary Dust: Comets, Meteors, Zodiacal Light, NLCís, IDPís



Dust particles ranging from the size of microns to millimeters form the smallest and most ubiquitous fraction of solid particles in our solar system. They are small, but nevertheless there are several ways in which they are visible on a dark starry night - and mostly just by the unaided eye!


Many amateur astronomers, and interested laypersons, will be familiar with the two most ubiquitous appearance forms of interplanetary dust: meteors ("shooting stars"), and comets. But how many of you know, or have seen yourself, the Zodiacal Light or Noctilucent Clouds?

Below are two of  four visible phenomenon associated with interplanetary dust - zodiacal light, and Noctilucent Clouds (NLCís) - that are visible without the need for expensive equipment. Click the pictures to get more information and a larger format picture. All pictures were made by me personally, and are © Marco Langbroek.

Marco Langbroek, Dutch Meteor Society, 31 December 2000

Note: only the zodiacal light & noctilucent cloud pages are still available. The comet & meteor pages have been discontinued. For these phenomena, see my comet & meteor picture gallery, and for backrounds on meteors & associated phenomena:


  Zodiacal Light

Dust visible in interplanetary space is visible.



  Noctilucent Clouds

Drifting clouds of dust, coated with ice, high in the atmosphere cause ghostly nighttime illuminating cloud phenomenon during summer at higher latitudes.


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Text and images © 2000 by Marco Langbroek,, Dutch Meteor Society (DMS). All rights reserved. Created 31 December 2000.