Moonbow: A Rainbow Generated from the Moonlight

Unlike Rainbows, a Moonbow is not commonly seen. Moonbows look like Rainbows but are created from moonlight instead of direct sunlight. These are rarer than rainbows because they require some particular weather and astronomical conditions to occur. 

Moonbows are also called Lunar Rainbows formed when the Moon’s light is reflected and refracted from the water droplets in the air. The beautiful scene of Moonbows could be viewed on the opposite side of the Moon. 

Science Behind Moonbows 

Moonbows primarily depend on location, the moonlight, proportions between sky and moon’s height, and impact of moisture in the atmosphere. The occurrence of moonbows depends on how light travels from the sun to the moon, the impact of raindrops, and their visible image to our eyes. 

The moon creates bows when: 

  •  The light reflected is bright enough,
  •  Moon must be low in the sky (less than42 degrees and preferably lower),
  •  There would be a full moon at night and
  •  There’s sufficient moisture in the right spot in our atmosphere.

When moonlight passes through clouds and raindrops, it splits in different angles like a prism. The prism with multiple colors is the same as rainbows. However colors like orange and red have longer wavelengths where colors of blue and purple would be in shorter wavelengths. The colors and sharpness of moonbows may be more diffuse, due to the waning and waxing of moon phases.

Due to this reason, moonbows are more likely to occur on a full moon and in a dark night. Any bright light can obscure it. The occurrence of moonbows over waterfalls are more frequent. 

Conversion of Moonbows into Fogbows

The moonbows could be turned into a fogbow. Fogbows may remain overnight due to enough moisture in the nighttime. This occurs usually when rain droplets are too small. Then colors from the atmosphere are not likely to split completely. Thus a white or gray fogbow will form. 

Read more: NASA’s Europa Clipper mission to Icy Jupiter’s Moon

Location of the Moonbows

Moonbows are found mostly over hills and waterfalls. As waterfalls create mist in the air or there must be rain falling opposite the moon. Some of the known locations where Moonbows are frequently seen are: the Yosemite National Park in California and Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Kentucky, U.S.; Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe; and Waimea in Hawaii, U.S.

Moonbow: A Symbol of Hope

Most often people believe that the rainbow around the moon is a symbol of hope, brightness and faith. People view it as a sign of happiness and feel lucky to see a rainbow or moonbow. The view of a moonbow in the darkness is mysterious and powerful.

People perceive it as a message of hope. That even in the darkest moments of life, there is a little hope shining through. This is an encouraging and motivating message for everyone.

Facts About Moonbows 

A Moonbow has no perfect position. It is always visible at a precise angle.

Moonbow is a full circle of light. However, viewing a moonbow on the ground we only see a semi-circle of it.

Moonbows can not be similar to two persons. They will see different moonbows at the same angle. 

A Moonbow has no Physical matter, no one can touch or feel it.

The sky in the surrounding moonbow is brighter than the sky outside the moonbow region.

The dark, unlit sky between the primary arc and secondary arc is called Alexander’s band, after Alexander of Aphrodisias who first described it in 200 AD.

Q: Why is there a circular rainbow around the moon sometimes?

Why it is important to know about past?


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