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image credit & copyright: David Lane

what's causing the unusual ray of white light extending upward from the central horizon ?

dust orbiting the Sun

at certain times of the year, a band of sun-reflecting dust from the inner Solar System rises prominently before sunrise and is called zodiacal light

the dust originates mostly from faint Jupiter-family comets and slowly spirals into the Sun

pictured, in front of the zodiacal light, is a spectacular view of Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River

emitted from well behind the zodiacal light is a spectacular sky that includes many bright stars including Sirius, several blue star clusters including the Pleiades, and an assortment of red nebulas including Barnard's Loop in Orion

the 30-image composite was taken last may in nearly complete darkness only six inches from the edge of a dangerous cliff

annotated photo: Click here to enlarge