gegenschein gā´gənshīn˝ [key] or counterglow, a slight brightening of the night sky in the region of the zodiac directly opposite the sun, i.e., 180° from the sun. Discovered by the Danish astronomer Theodor Brersen in 1854, its nature and cause are still unknown. It may be caused by reflection of sunlight by small dust particles that lie in the plane of the solar system. It is possible that these particles are part of a tail of the earth, extending away from the sun like the tail of a comet. The gegenschein is one of several sky glows, as is the zodiacal light .

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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