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Rare glimpse of "zodiacal light" seen from atop Mount Washington

International Space Station captures video over New England
International Space Station captures video over New England 00:27

NORTH CONWAY, N.H. - The top of Mount Washington is known for offering breathtaking views of New England, but it's easy to see why it's also one of the best vantage points for incredible sights in the night sky.

The Mount Washington Observatory shared photos of the "zodiac light" phenomenon as photographed from the summit early Wednesday morning. Also known as "false dawn," it appears as a faint pyramid of light in the hours before sunrise.

As weather observer Ryan Knapp explained in a 2017 blog post for the observatory, the zodiac light occurs around the spring and fall equinox. It's formed by sunlight reflecting off microscopic space dust between Mercury and Jupiter.

NASA says that recent research suggests that the interplanetary dust producing zodiacal light comes from Mars.

It's difficult, but not impossible to get a look at the zodiac light for yourself. Knapp says getting away from light pollution to find dark skies is key. The skies to the east need to be clear and there should be little to no moonlight. And while you don't need to be at a location as high as the peak of Mount Washington, you'll want to at least be on a hill or by a body of water like a lake or the ocean with a good view to the east. 

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