10 Breathtaking Photos of the Elusive Moonbow

Image credit: 
Calvin Bradshaw (calvinbradshaw.com)

A moonbow, or lunar rainbow, is just like a normal rainbow, but at night. They are also much less common and almost impossible to see. Moonlight is just reflected sunlight, so it makes sense that these rainbows would be a lot dimmer. These spectacles are so dim that most people cannot see them with the naked eye. The best way to see these sly rainbows is with a camera and long exposure.

If you're looking to snap your own picture of a moonbow, the best place to look is by waterfalls. Lunar rainbows that form from falling water are known as spray moonbows. The most popular spots for spray moonbow sightings are Victoria Falls, Yosemite National Park, and Cumberland Falls. Texas State University even offers predictions for moonbow appearances in Yosemite Park. 

1. Skógafoss waterfall

Stephane Vetter (Nuits sacrees) via NASA

The Skógafoss waterfall is one of the largest in Iceland. Not only is there a beautiful moonbow, there are also green streaks of aurora. 

2. Lower Yosemite Falls

Catherine Aeppel captured this shot at Lower Yosemite Falls. You can see the night sky overhead and even the Big Dipper makes an appearance.

3. Wallaman Falls

Phil Plait

Thierry Legault took this beautiful photograph at Wallaman Falls in Australia. It is the tallest single-drop waterfall in the country.

4. Yosemite Falls

Here's a another shot at Yosemite Park courtesy of National Geographic.

5. Jerome

Alan Stark

A moonbow stretches over the Arizona mining town of Jerome.

6. Cumberland Falls

Brandy Cathers found this one at Cumberland Falls in Kentucky, also known as the Little Niagara. Due to the often clear weather, moonbows are fairly common.

7. Victoria Falls

Calvin Bradshaw (calvinbradshaw.com) via Wikimedia Commons

Victoria Falls has also been called "The smoke that thunders." The waterfall has several vantage points that allow tourists to take great panoramic pictures. As you can see, the moonbow only exists where the spray is. It needs the water droplets to scatter the light to create the colorful display. 

8. Lower Yosemite Fall

Brocken Inaglory

Here is an interesting shot at the lower Yosemite Fall.  

9. & 10. Yosemite Falls

Peter Park nabbed this picture at Yosemite Falls. The technicolor water looks straight out of a fairy tale. 

Here's another angle of the same waterfall. It may look like daytime, but the visible stars show it's the middle of the night. 

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July 22, 2014 - 9:35am
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