ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Moonbows-lunar rainbows-white rainbows

Updated on March 19, 2017
unvrso profile image

Unvrso has been writing varied topics of literature since 2005 and started writing for hubpages in 2009.



What is a Moonbow?

A Moonbow or lunar rainbow is an atmospheric formation that occurs when the moon´s light is reflected off water droplets in the atmosphere. This type of phenomena are similar to rainbows; however, unlike rainbows, which are created by the interaction between sunlight and water droplets, moonbows are produced by the interaction between water droplets and the light from the sun that is reflected off the surface of the moon.

Moonbow Created by the Rising Mist from the Waterfall


Where do Moonbows Form?

They usually form where tiny drops of water are forming, such as in a rain cloud, or close to a waterfall. They can also form during light rainy days. Moonbows appear white to the naked eye due that the low brightness is not able to activate the cone color receptor in the eyes. This type of atmospheric phenomena should be captured by a long exposure photography.

The light that is reflect off the moon creates a feeble Moonbow when interacting with the mist of a waterfall. Often an arc can be seen when the moon is shining up in the sky on a clear cloudless sky, letting a considerable amount of light to be reflected off the water droplets in the ambient. In this setting, the best way to observe a Moon bow is to situate yourself between the moon and the mist, with the moon behind you.

Where are Moonbows observed?

They are most commonly observed during dark clear nights and far away from the source of city lights. The way in which Moonbows are formed-via sunlight, moonlight, decreases the intensity of light, creating Moonbows that are almost imperceptible: in addition, this loss of intensity can be further increased by added luminosity.

The best time to observe a Moonbow is during a full moon night. The moon must be positioned at a 45-degree angle or less above the horizon and this is needed to reflect the necessary light to make it observable by a viewer. They usually appear in the part of the sky that is apposite to the moon; the viewer must be positioned behind the reflective mist.

Moonbow and Aurora Borealis

Stephane Vetter
Stephane Vetter

Moonrainbow, Nightrainbow, Lunar Rainbow and White Rainbow.

If you happen to be in the northern latitudes contemplating a moonbow with clear skies and a bright full Moon, the phenomenon may be accompanied by other natural phenomena, such as the glowing lights of the aurora borealis curtains with their characteristic green color in the background sky, such as in the photograph taken in Iceland.

A moonbow is produced by reflection, refraction and dispersion of the light coming from the Moon and interacting with the mist or falling rain. A moonbow contains the colors of the spectrum; however, in not too intense full moon nights, only a white moonbow will be perceived. Its color varies from plain white to grayish white. Other names with which a moonbow is known include moonrainbow, nightrainbow, lunar rainbow and white rainbow.

Moonbow at Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park

Moonbow Formation

Do Moonbows form in your region of the world?

See results

Facts about Moonbows

  • Other names with which a moonbow is known include: lunar rainbow, white rainbow and space rainbow.
  • For a moonbow to occur there must be good weather conditions with clear skiesand a full Moon; however, a clear moonlit night can be good enough to reflect enough sunlight to show a moonbow.
  • A colorful moonbow is most commonly seen during the fall and winter season when the air in the atmosphere is drier.
  • Long exposure cameras can capture the colors of a moonbow

Famous Places to Watch a Moonbow

Moonbows are fascinating phenomena to watch. Moonbows are more rare than rainbows created by the Sun, as they depend on more factors other than just sunlight. The most usual places to witness a moonbow are the ones that meet the required conditions for them to be seen, such as a waterfall. There are famous places in which mooonbows are known to become visible, including Cumberland Falls and Yosemite National Park in the U.S. Victoria Falls in Africa and Waimea Canyon in Hawaii.

They also occur in Costa Rica and are produced by the Christmas winter winds during the months of December to February. The atmospheric disturbances that cause this phenomenon are known as ¨Pelo de Gato´ or cat´s hair in Spanish due to their resemblance to this pet animal.

Cumberlands Falls, Kentucky claims to be the only place in the Western Hemisphere where a moonbow can be predicted for observation.

© 2012 Jose Juan Gutierrez


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Some time ago I was driving up to Mount Haleakela on Maui at night. I saw the most amazing moonbow. I pulled to the side of the road because I was afraid of causing an accident (the moonbow was so amazing that it captured all your attention). Everyone was pulling to the side of the road. I live at 3,800 feet on Haleakala, but I doubt I will see such a moonbow again. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. BBMaui

  • unvrso profile imageAUTHOR

    Jose Juan Gutierrez 

    7 years ago from Mexico City

    Thanks for taking the time to visit and commenting on this hub, Abdul Wahabone.

  • Abdul Wahabone profile image

    Abdul Wahab 

    7 years ago from Yanbu Al-Bahar, Al Madinah, Saudi Arabia

    such an informative hub, i didn't know about moon-bow, thanks.........

  • unvrso profile imageAUTHOR

    Jose Juan Gutierrez 

    8 years ago from Mexico City

    That's all you need! A drizzle and the Moon behind the observer. Sufficiently dark and nothing outshining the moonlight.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    We were camping in Caerfai Bay, Pembrokeshire, Wales and about 10 days ago saw a moonbow. It was white and could be seen with our backs to the moon. The moon was just bigger than a half moon, there was a little drizzle in the air and it was a clear, dark night. We had never heard of a moonbow and it was a fantastic sight. This was a natural phenomenon, in the sky (like a rainbow) and not made by a full moon, waterfall or in one of the main places to view moonbows.

    That's the wonder of Wales for you.....

  • unvrso profile imageAUTHOR

    Jose Juan Gutierrez 

    8 years ago from Mexico City

    The places I mentioned are the most renown places in the world where moonbows are known to occur, however, a waterfall or a light rainy night is likely to produce a moonbow, moreover, you can make a moonbow if you wait for a full moon and clear skies, then make a drizzle with a water hose. For this to occur, you have to be between the full moon and the drizzle, with the full moon behind the observer (you).

  • bankscottage profile image

    Mark Shulkosky 

    8 years ago from Pennsylvania

    Thanks. I was only visiting, but I'll pay more attention to a full moon if I go back. I thought they said the only other place you can see a moonbow is in Australia or New Zealand, but I see you have a picture from Yosemite. You also say they can be seen in Hawaii and Africa. I am more likely to go to Hawaii and visit Wiamea Canyon than go to Africa or even back to Corbin for that matter.

  • unvrso profile imageAUTHOR

    Jose Juan Gutierrez 

    8 years ago from Mexico City

    A moonbow can best be seen two days before or two days after a full moon. This is because the full moon can reflect more intensely the light from the sun. On this page are the dates when a moonbow is more likely to be seen in Cumberland Falls:

  • bankscottage profile image

    Mark Shulkosky 

    8 years ago from Pennsylvania

    Nice Hub. Thanks for answering my question.

    I visted Cumberland Falls near Corbin, KY but not sure that I saw one.

  • unvrso profile imageAUTHOR

    Jose Juan Gutierrez 

    8 years ago from Mexico City

    I agree! This type of phenomena is interesting! If you live close to a waterfall, you might have to wait until you see a full Moon in the sky, along with a clear night. This might allow you observe a moonbow.

  • Marturion profile image


    8 years ago

    Interesting. I can honestly say I've never seen a moonbow. I'll have to look into this some more.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)