Gegenschein – have we seen a ring and misidentified it?

Here is one of Stéphane Guisard’s photos from Paranal, apparently taken from a point of view looking straight up toward the zenith.  Thus the ragged edge around the picture would be trees and buildings on the horizon.  The vaguely glowing arc is the Gegenschein.  Here it is particularly clear that the Gegenschein looks just as a ring in the plane of the lunar orbit ought to look: as to location (ecliptic), illumination (a march across the sky of moon phases), and as to shape – narrow and focused when seen high in the sky.

In short I think we have seen an Earth ring already and mis-identified it as planetary dust in orbit around the Sun, when it is dust in orbit around the Earth.  O’Keefe’s daughter Jane Meyerhofer has remarked that the optical effect to which the Gegenschein is usually attributed (“glory”) should not vary with observer location as the Gegenschein does.   We may ask as well, if it’s a “glory”, why does this arc appear to have so much structure?

Stephane Guisard's photo of the Gegenschein

Stephane Guisard’s photo of the Gegenschein from Paranal. © Stéphane Guisard.  Shown here with permission. And see http://www.astrosurf.com/sguisard
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