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The Zodiacal Light in history

6 January 2014

Mark Bailey (Armagh Observatory) in 'Sources and Populations of Near Earth Objects: Recent Findings and Historical Implications' which was published in the Proceeding of the SIS Second Cambridge Conference, made the following observation – 'so far as the Milky Way is concerned, it is interesting to note that early Greek sources describe 'stars' as lying below the Sun and Moon (Anadimander, Leucippus), call the Milky Way the former path of the Sun (metrodorus) and describe the Milky Way's location in the sky 'in the Earth's shadow' (Anaxagorus, Democritus). These notions are difficult to understand unless 'stars' is interpreted to mean 'shooting stars' (meteors) and the Milky Way is understood to refer to an earlier, more intense zodiacal light, presumably emanating from a more massive former zodiacal cloud. Further arguments that the zodiacal light  may have been much brighter in the past have been presented by Jones'

HD Jones (1990), Zodiacal Light and the Pyramids, Journal of the British Astronomical Association 100 page 162, and HD Jones (1993), 'Zodiacal light and ancient symbolism' Journal of the British Astronomical Association 103 pages 283-4.

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