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Calvin Bradshaw (calvinbradshaw.com)

Moonbows!

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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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Courtesy of Nikon
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science
Microscopic Videos Provide a Rare Close-Up Glimpse of the Natural World
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Courtesy of Nikon

Nature’s wonders aren’t always visible to the naked eye. To celebrate the miniature realm, Nikon’s Small World in Motion digital video competition awards prizes to the most stunning microscopic moving images, as filmed and submitted by photographers and scientists. The winners of the seventh annual competition were just announced on September 21—and you can check out the top submissions below.

FIRST PRIZE

Daniel von Wangenheim, a biologist at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, took first place with a time-lapse video of thale cress root growth. For the uninitiated, thale cress—known to scientists as Arabidopsis thalianais a small flowering plant, considered by many to be a weed. Plant and genetics researchers like thale cress because of its fast growth cycle, abundant seed production, ability to pollinate itself, and wild genes, which haven’t been subjected to breeding and artificial selection.

Von Wangenheim’s footage condenses 17 hours of root tip growth into just 10 seconds. Magnified with a confocal microscope, the root appears neon green and pink—but von Wangenheim’s work shouldn’t be appreciated only for its aesthetics, he explains in a Nikon news release.

"Once we have a better understanding of the behavior of plant roots and its underlying mechanisms, we can help them grow deeper into the soil to reach water, or defy gravity in upper areas of the soil to adjust their root branching angle to areas with richer nutrients," said von Wangenheim, who studies how plants perceive and respond to gravity. "One step further, this could finally help to successfully grow plants under microgravity conditions in outer space—to provide food for astronauts in long-lasting missions."

SECOND PRIZE

Second place went to Tsutomu Tomita and Shun Miyazaki, both seasoned micro-photographers. They used a stereomicroscope to create a time-lapse video of a sweating fingertip, resulting in footage that’s both mesmerizing and gross.

To prompt the scene, "Tomita created tension amongst the subjects by showing them a video of daredevils climbing to the top of a skyscraper," according to Nikon. "Sweating is a common part of daily life, but being able to see it at a microscopic level is equal parts enlightening and cringe-worthy."

THIRD PRIZE

Third prize was awarded to Satoshi Nishimura, a professor from Japan’s Jichi Medical University who’s also a photography hobbyist. He filmed leukocyte accumulations and platelet aggregations in injured mouse cells. The rainbow-hued video "provides a rare look at how the body reacts to a puncture wound and begins the healing process by creating a blood clot," Nikon said.

To view the complete list of winners, visit Nikon’s website.

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environment
Great Britain's Last Snow Patch Is About to Disappear Completely for the First Time in a Decade

Until recently, it was easy to find snow in Great Britain at any time of the year—you just had to know where to look. In previous Septembers, the island has been home to as many as 678 snow patches, residual pockets of snow and ice whose climates and topographies keep them frozen through the summer. This year, though, only two of Britain's snow patches have survived the summer. And the island is now on track to be completely snowless by the end of the season, Atlas Obscura reports.

Snow patches vary in size and durability, with some melting completely by late summer and others remaining a permanent fixture of the landscape. Garbh Choire Mor—a steep glacial depression on top of Scotland's third-highest mountain, Braeriach—contains two of the oldest snow patches in Britain, known as the Pinnacles and the Sphinx. The Pinnacles snow patch dissolved into a puddle earlier this month, and the Sphinx snow patch, the last surviving snow patch in Great Britain, is expected to do the same in the next few days.

Scotland experienced uncharacteristically hot weather this summer, with temperatures creeping into the low 90s as early as May. But more significant than the sweltering summer was the dry winter that preceded it. Below-average snowfall last year meant this year's snow patches were already smaller than usual when temperatures started heating up. If the Sphinx snow patch does vanish before winter arrives, it will mark the first time in over a decade and just the sixth time in the last 300 years that England, Scotland, and Wales are without a single patch of snow.

The Sphinx snow patch, though currently a measly version of its previous self, is still visible for now. But Iain Cameron, a veteran "snow patcher" who writes an annual report on snow for the UK's Royal Meteorological Society, says it could be gone as soon as Wednesday, September 20.

He's currently camped out on Garbh Choire Mor, waiting to document the patch's final moments. You can follow his updates on Twitter.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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