Dean M. Chriss
Pond and Tree, Winter Dawn, New Mexico
(Click image to enlarge)
This image was captured a few minutes before sunrise, just as the Belt of
Venus is about to touch and illuminate the mountains. A winter storm of the previous day and 11 degree below zero Fahrenheit temperatures cloaked the landscape in a blanket of snow and frost.
The "Belt of Venus" is a phenomenon that is often seen but seldom
recognized. Shortly before sunrise or shortly after sunset an arched band
that glows pinkish red first appears about 10° to 20° above the horizon. The
arch is wide and flat enough that we often think it is flat. It is known as
the twilight arch. The twilight arch is often separated from the horizon by
a dark layer, which is the earth's shadow. The Belt of Venus is actually the
boundary between day and night. This arch rotates downward, opposite the sun
as it rises, and becomes the brilliant red light that illuminates objects on
the horizon at sunrise.
In this photograph the sun has not yet risen and the bottom edge of the Belt
of Venus is almost touching the mountains. Along with the foreground they
are still in the earth's shadow but reflect the diffusely scattered and
warmly colored light.