Bask In The Beauty of Waves Of Fog On A Moonlit Night

The fog of San Francisco is epic, a distinct character as iconic as Golden Gate Bridge. This is a visual ode to a single night of thick, flowing fog unlike anywhere else, and an undeniable reminder of the fluidity of air.


We've previously covered a timelapse of two years of fog ebbing and flowing through the Bay Area, a visual demonstration that air is a fluid draping the landscape.

Gary Yost is a volunteer fire lookout, perched on Mount Tamalpais watching the fog smother city lights until only moonlight remains. He's captured this view to share with us, writing:

The Bay Area is famous for its dense fog, and when you're in it the fog is cold and grey. But there's another side to the fog and the only way to see what happens when it fully comes in and blankets the SF Bay Area at night is to be above it. Because Mt. Tam is closed to everyone but rangers and fire lookout volunteers after sunset, very few people have ever seen the majestically mysterious vapors of the Pacific ocean as it flows in to completely cover the Bay. What starts as a partial blanket quickly rushes in to fill the gaps and by 1am, the lights of the cities below eventually become completely smothered.


If you're curious about the golf ball structure in the final scenes, that's an old Nike radar, now upgraded by the FAA to a modern radome. It's history is the topic of another of Yost's films, "The Invisible Peak."

In a full article about the making of the short film, Yost expresses his enduring awe for the iconic fog:

When you're in the fog (anywhere below 1500-2000 feet), it just appears as a drab grey blanket, but when you're above it, it becomes dynamic and almost looks alive. The fog forms from nowhere and becomes a magical mysterious tsunami of vapor that erases almost all traces of civilization at night. It's an elemental dance… the water rises up into the air and blankets the earth. The fourth element is fire, and it's what we humans bring to the landscape. This fire energy is an artifact of our civilization as evidenced by the lights of our vehicles and cities.


The video isn't just about the fog — Yost captures a gloriously full moon, and even a moon glory [1:56-2:01]. A glory is a rainbow iridescence in clouds formed by water droplets scattering light. The light is usually sunlight on our planet or elsewhere, but it can happen, like it does here, with the silvery light of a full moon. Yost captured a sunlight glory from the lookout on a different occasion:


One of the bits of science-magic about glory is that its location depends on perspective: the observer will always see themselves at the center of a rainbow halo.

Tip via 'Gusto, thank you! A timelapse from the other coast captures clouds forming a standing wave, while no one can get angry at this marmot derailing a timelapse in the Rockies.


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