September 5, 2011 Zodiacal Light and Fog Bow

I went out this morning for low fog ops. Like always some breeze screwed it up. I reached Murray Hill and had come across no fog, so I went to the back up spot north of Pisgah. It fogs in that area all the time. There is a steep ass road to use there and look down on the fog. It's 5:15 when I get there and the sun doesn't rise till about 6:45. Soon as I poked my head out of the car and looked east, the Zodiacal Light jumped right out at me. I'd never knowingly seen it before. What it is is dust in the inner solar system. It is best seen in the fall near the fall equinox before sunrise in the east. Or in the spring it's best seen around the spring equinox in the west after sunset.

Twilight hadn't kicked in yet and it simply just stood out in the sky. The thing is it is really a dim object. You'll need really dark skies...moon-less ones as well.

The Milky Way could be seen stretching from southeast to northwest at an angle on the Zodiacal Light. The Milky Way at this time isn't a really bright section, so the Zodiacal Light appeared to be even a bit brighter than the Galaxy. It seems it will hold a similar brightness for a while before twilight starts. Then right before twilight, for a fairly short window, it will jet up a bit better/brighter/higher.

Infrared satellite is a good thing to check before going out in the dark. Not even a hint of a cloud around.

Water vapor image at the same time. You can see where there is moisture in the north on the water vapor image, there weren't any actual clouds. But you can also see the intense drying behind the southeastern storm system. Seems to me you'd have even clearer skies whenever you can manage to get under that stuff. So it was really dark clear out this night and morning.

I really wish I had a faster wide angle. F3.5 is all the faster I can get. F2.8 would be nice. The above image was 3200 ISO on my T2i and cleaned up some later. 25 seconds. It also needed the exposure boosted some more in processing. It's a 10mm view on the T2i which will help. The more dark sky included to help contrast it, the better. I tossed the 50mm F1.8 on for the heck of it and it did nothing. The 50mm view is pretty much just the brighter light area.

400ISO for 3 minutes. Obviously you can see the low fog down below.

1600 ISO for 45 seconds seemed to be the best compromise on things. It still needed boosting in processing. F2.8 and you could use 800 ISO instead basically. Or 1600 ISO and a brighter image. Missing my old 5D II about now lol. Could get some amazing results with that and a fast lens I'm sure.

With it being just as clear the next morning I had to drive back up there again and try a trail. This basically was requiring waking up at 3:45 and hitting the road. I'm getting pretty darn used to that with fog hopes. Yet those just keep on failing over and over. That said, I do have some fog images I'll have to post at some point.

Fog bow the first morning of the Zodiacal Light. It's getting easy to get these.

This one was back on August 14th around the river flooding area.