What is a Moonbow?

The Seasons
The Seasons

Moonbow is a rare natural phenomenon that is also referred to as white rainbow or lunar rainbow. It occurs when the Moon’s light is reflected and refracted off water droplets in the air. For its formation, the night sky must be very dark and the moon should be very low in the sky.

The elevation needs to be lower than 42 degrees and the phase should be Full moon or nearly full. As compared to rainbows, moonbows are much fainter because a smaller amount of light is reflected from the surface of the moon.

Quick Facts: –

  • In order for a Moonbow formation, water droplets must be present in the air in the opposite direction of the moon.
  • When formed on a waterfall, it is called a spray Moonbow.
  • There are some locations around the world where moonbows occur more frequently.
  • Some of these locations include Yosemite National Park in California and Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Kentucky.
  • All these locations tend to have waterfalls as they create layers of mist in the air.
  • Moonbows do not exactly look like rainbows because the moonlight is not very bright.
  • This dim moonlight produces colors that usually are not bright enough to be detected by the color receptors in the human eye.
  • They can only be observed two to three hours before or two to three hours after sunset.