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What is a nighttime rainbow?
A nighttime rainbow is a rainbow that is produced by light that is reflected off of the surface of the moon instead of the sun. It is known by several different names including: moon-bow, space rainbow, lunar bow, lunar rainbow and white rainbow.
A nighttime rainbow or moonbow is always seen in the opposite part of the sky as the moon
There are relatively few places in the world that a night rainbow can be seen: Cumberland Farms near Corbin, Kentucky; Waimea, Hawaii on Kauai Island; Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbobwe and Zambia; and Durham, North Carolina. These are the areas where the nighttime rainbows are more commonly seen although they have occasionally been spotted in other areas.
Because the light is too faint to be picked up by or to excite the cone receptors of your eyes it often looks as though it is a white or silvery color.
For a moon-bow or nighttime rainbow to appear several things must happen. It must be near a full moon, it must be raining opposite the moon, the sky must be dark, and the moon must be less than 42 degrees high.
Lunar rainbows have been observed for millions of years, back to the time of Aristotle.
▪ Double moonbows are possible when moonlight and moisture is abundant.
You can only clearly see the colors is a moon-bow when you photograph using long-exposure photography.
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Although 'Moonbows' often appear white to the eye, the colors can be captured in a photograph when using a long exposure.
As moonlight is many thousands of times fainter than sunshine the bow is many times fainter and only seen when the Moon is near full.
A night rainbow is seen most often near a waterfall.
They are relatively rare because a number of conditions need to happen such as : the moon must be less that 42 degrees high in the sky, them sky must be very, very dark, and there must be rain falling opposite the moon.
A Night Rainbow is thought to bring luck to the area in which it is seen.
Another name for a night rainbow is a moon bow which is also known as a lunar rainbow, a black rainbow, or a white rainbow.
Great Spot to View a Moonbow
Moonbows can be seen 2 to 3 hours before sunrise or 2 to 3 hours after sunset, the darkest parks of the night.
© 2012 Susan Hazelton