Featured Las Cruces Print
Milky Way, zodiacal light and other celestial objects from summit of Gila National Wilderness
A 160 degree panorama showing the zodiacal light (at right in the west), the Milky Way, the zodiacal band across the frame at top, and the Gegenschein (a brightening of the zodiacal band at left of frame in the east in Leo). Along the Milky Way are dark lanes of interstellar dust, particularly in Taurus above and to the right of Orion. Red nebulae of glowing gas also lie along the Milky Way, such as Barnarda??s Loop around Orion.
The zodiacal light, zodiacal band and Gegenschein all lie along the ecliptic, as do Mars, Venus and Jupiter shown here.
Orion is at centre, in the south, with Canis Major and the bright star Sirius below and to the left of Orion. Canopus is just setting on the southern horizon at centre.
To the right of Orion is Taurus and the Pleiades star cluster at the top of the zodiacal light pyramid.
Venus is the bright object in the zodiacal light at right, in the west, while fainter Mars is below Venus.
At far right, in the northwest, is the Andromeda Galaxy, M31.
Jupiter is the bright object at upper left, in the east, in the zodiacal band, and near the Beehive star cluster.
The zodiacal light, zodiacal band and and Gegenschein are caused by sunlight reflecting off cometary and meteoric dust in the inner solar system. The Gegenschein, or counterglow, can be seen with the naked eye but is a subtle and diffuse brightening of the sky in the spot opposite the Sun. It is caused by sunlight reflecting directly back from comet dust, with the effect greatest at the point opposite the Sun.
Glows on the horizon are from distant SIlver City, Las Cruces and El Paso. The brighter sky at right is from the last vestiges of evening twilight. Some green and red airglow bands also permeate the sky.
This image photographed March 10, 2015 from the summit of Highway 15 through the Gila National Wilderness north of Silver City, in New Mexico, from an altitude of 7900 feet. The panorama takes in 160A? of sky from the western (right) to the east (left) and from below the horizon to past the zenith point overhead. It is a stitch, with PTGui software, of 5 segments, each consisting of 2 stacked 3-minute exposures, at f/3.5 with the 15mm full-frame fish-eye lens, on the Canon 5D Mark II at ISO 1600. The camera was on the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer tracker, so the stars are sharp but the ground is slightly blurred. This version is re-rendered to be more rectangular and less fish-eye in appearance from the original, though in doing so is cropped somewhat
© Alan Dyer/Stocktrek Images