Rainbows Do Occur in the Night !!!


Posted on Sep 15, 2012 by Taakjhaak Editorial

Ever heard about the rare and breathtaking phenomenon of a rainbow or shall we call it ‘Moonbow’ as the physicists do? Some other terminologies such as “night rainbow ”,“ lunar rainbow” and “moon rainbow” are also made use of to describe this one of a kind, breathtaking sight that makes the shutterbugs go crazy!

The occurrence and physical evidence of Moonbows contradict old beliefs that rainbows cannot happen in the night. Yes, they do and going by some of the visually enticing photographs we happened to chance upon, we can tell you that the sight is just awesome!

So, how does a moonbow form? As the name suggests, Moon does have a role to play in the formation of this rainbow at in the early evenings (but obviously with the Sun having set and gleefully off to bed by then ;) ). Delving into the ‘physics’ of it, a lunar rainbow is formed by refraction, dispersion, and reflection of the rays of the Moon in the mist or rain. The unforgettable magnificence can be seen on the area opposite to the Moon. With an arch like formation, the spectrum of colours does not appear as lucid as it does for a day rainbow. With the low amount of light that goes into its creation, the colours you see will vary from pale hues of VIBGYOR, greyish white, or just dull white.

Face your back to the Moon and you might probably witness the spectacle of the moonbow if the time is around Full Moon, time for the moon to rise or set, and if it’s raining or there is sufficient mist in the air. The angle at which the moon rays meet the mist drops is important to create the rainbow and the rising or setting moon make the conditions ideal. Besides having your back turned to the Moon, the angle from which you look also matters.

Moonbows at some Exotic Waterfalls are a delight to watch!

Cumberland Falls, located in Kentucky (south-eastern region) near London is a lovely example of a moonbow near a waterfall. The best time to witness the spectacular delight here is on or within a day or two of a Full Moon night under a clear sky. Here, the moonbow usually takes the form of an arch of white light and places itself at the base of the falls. Visitors and tourists throng this exotic destination to witness nature unveiling its many ‘colours’ in the literal sense. If you’re fortunate enough with the weather conditions (hazy, cloudy and foggy skies ruin your chances), then you might get to chance upon this sight of a lifetime!

Victoria Falls, situated on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia in Africa is another place where you can get a clear vision of the lunar rainbow. Every Full Moon the Victoria Falls rainforest opens especially for tourists who want to witness the spectacle of a moon rainbow. Special tours are operated the night before, night of, and the night after the Full Moon. This is because the Moon is at its brightest best on these nights, magnifying your possibility of witnessing a moonbow. Yosemite Falls in California is another place you can head to if you want to see a spray moonbow.

The moonbow at the Falls is a treat for the photographers! All you casual shutterbugs, head to one such destination the next time you plan a vacation and trust us, you will love to flaunt your prized clicks to your acquaintances. One handy photography tip – the best way to capture a moonbow on film is to fix your DSLR camera on a tripod stand, use a fast film with a long exposure of minutes. Digital cameras work just as good… you just have to forget using flash and take clicks under the natural lighting conditions.

Besides the falls we have mentioned, there sure must be some other places where you can catch a glimpse of a moonbow. Get started on your research and plan a trip with your loved ones. Visualise a romantic Full Moon… against the backdrop of a soothing waterfall… its ethereal beauty heightened by a subdued version of a rainbow at night… the whole scene appears just out of the world even to an imagination! Hail Mother Nature!!

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