Calvin Bradshaw (calvinbradshaw.com)
Calvin Bradshaw (calvinbradshaw.com)

Moonbows!

Calvin Bradshaw (calvinbradshaw.com)
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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How to Spot Poison Ivy, According to a Scientist
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If you're a former scout, you've probably heard the rhyme “leaves of three, let it be.” This mnemonic device, used to steer intrepid outdoorspeople away from poisonous ivy and oak, is generally sound advice for ensuring you don’t come home with a nasty rash. Not all three-leaved plants are the enemy, though, and several harmless plants are often confused with poison ivy.

Microbiologist John Jelesko shared some tips with NPR for identifying this pernicious plant. First, it helps to know what you’re up against. Poison ivy is a master of disguise and can take many different shapes and sizes. It can appear in small patches, take the form of creeping vines or a bush, and can even mimic the appearance of a tree it has wrapped itself around. The leaves can have either “smooth, jagged, or lobed edges” and may or may not bear white or greenish berries.

If the plant has thorns, you can be sure it’s not poison ivy, whose mode of attack is a little more stealthy. In the city, Jelesko had found that climbing vines are the more common form; look out for ground-creeping vines in forested areas. While there are exceptions to this rule, Jelesko’s research found that poison ivy tends to take different forms depending on the landscape.

A longer middle stem and a hairy vine are also signs that you could be dealing with poison ivy. If you have a plant in your garden that you can’t identify, you can conduct a “black dot test” to see if it’s poison ivy. Put on a pair of gloves, tear a leaf in half, and place the sap on a sheet of white paper. If it’s urushiol oil (the rash-causing chemical in poison ivy), it will turn black within 30 minutes.

Sometimes, even our best efforts to identify poison ivy may fail. If you think you may have brushed up against it, don’t panic—take a shower within a few hours of contact. That should keep your chance of developing a rash at a minimum.

[h/t NPR]

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Art
A Rare Copy of Audubon's Birds of America Could Break Records at Auction
Christie's
Christie's

American artist and naturalist John James Audubon published The Birds of America in the first half of the 19th century, and his massive “double-elephant” folio of life-size bird illustrations remains one of the most ambitious nature books ever produced. On June 14, a rare edition of the four-book set is hitting the auction block, and it's expected to fetch up to $12 million—more than any Audubon book ever sold.

This edition of The Birds of America was owned by the dukes of Portland from around 1839 to 2012. Because it was stored on the shelves of the family's Nottinghamshire, England estate for nearly a century, the set's prints of watercolor drawings have remained remarkably well-preserved.

In 2012, the copy was auctioned off to philanthropist and businessman Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. for nearly $8 million. Knobloch donated the books to the Knobloch Family Foundation (KFF) before his death in 2016. Now, the KFF is sending the books to auction once again. This time, all proceeds of the sale will go to nature conservation.

Set of red leather-bound books.

New York City auction house Christie's describes the set in a listing as "among the finest copies in private hands of this icon of American art, and the finest color-plate book ever produced." Each of the 435 double-elephant folio pages measures 39.5 inches by 26.5 inches, the largest sheets Audubon could get his hands on at the time, and they feature 1037 birds from 500 species. The books are bound in red Moroccan leather with gold detailing on the borders and spines. The four-volume set also comes with the Ornithological Biography, a collection of five books describing the specimens in The Birds of America and their habits.

Christie's estimates the set will sell for $8 million to $12 million when the final bid is placed later this month. To date, the most expensive copy of The Birds of America was a first edition acquired from Sotheby's in London for $11.5 million. That sale also broke the record for the most expensive printed book ever sold at auction, a record held until 2013.

Illustration of American birds.

Illustration of American bird.

Illustration of American birds.

Illustration of American birds.

Illustration of American birds.

All images courtesy of Christie's

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