Moonbow = Rainbow at Night

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Just after 1am in the middle of the night (returning from photographing the green sea turtles laying their eggs in the dunes) I noticed some geometrical formation in the sky on Fraser Island. I quickly stopped the car and turned off the light. It was then that I realised I am witnessing the rare event....a rainbow at night. Hurry up, get a shot or two....that's all I was thinking. Didn't even have the time to turn around the car for a Toyota promo shot...lol. It all happened so quickly.
The wind picked up and I had to use my umbrella (Mushroom in the foreground) to protect my gear from the rain drops that were already flying horizontally. Not a high quality shot that you see here but hey..consider the circumstances. Have you ever seen a full moonbow at night? I thought this was pretty special and many people probably haven't even seen a moonbow before. You can see the moon is behind me and at the bottom you see the shadow of my umbrella. The moonbow lasted only a few minutes...time enough to quickly setup the tripod, umbrella and compose this shot.

From Wikipedia:
A moonbow (also known as a lunar rainbow, lunar bow or white rainbow) is a rainbow produced by the moon rather than the sun. Moonbows are relatively faint, due to the smaller amount of light from the Moon. They are always in the opposite part of the sky from the moon.

It is difficult for the human eye to discern colours in a moonbow because the light is usually too faint to excite the cone colour receptors in human eyes. As a result, they often appear to be white.[1] However, the colours in a moonbow do appear in long exposure photographs.

A coloured circle around the moon is not a moonbow—it is usually a 22° halo produced by refraction through hexagonal ice crystals in cirrus cloud. Coloured rings close to the moon are a corona, a diffraction phenomenon produced by very small water droplets or ice crystals in clouds.

Moonbows are most easily viewed when the moon is near to full (when it is brightest). For other than those produced by waterfalls, the moon must be low in the sky (less than 42 degrees and preferably lower) and the sky must be dark. And of course there must be rain falling opposite the moon. This combination of requirements makes moonbows much more rare than rainbows produced by the sun.


Featured in Andy Frazer's Night Photography Blog

chrias., LUKΞ, angus clyne, and 539 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. Moch Irwansyah 49 months ago | reply

    weh keren bgt ( Very Awesome )

  2. Lyndon (AussieDingo) 49 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called www.flickr.com/groups/1099286@N22/, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  3. Dave Shiel 49 months ago | reply

    Really cool!

  4. skatejpg 49 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called 喜欢就好, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  5. I am marlon 46 months ago | reply

    Superb timing and shot location. This is hard to duplicate. Congrats!
    Cheers!

  6. Hunkar Salci 44 months ago | reply

    Excellent Work!

  7. PetterPhoto 44 months ago | reply

    Congrats on this spectacular shot!!

  8. munchkincity 43 months ago | reply

    Wow this is amazing! I didn't know you could get rainbows at night. Great shot :)

  9. IMDS-Photography 40 months ago | reply


    This Invitation counts as an award!

  10. ~ jules ~ 37 months ago | reply

    Very very cool shot. What a great oportunity and so well taken. And on one of the best places on this planet. I had a whale of a time on Fraiser Island. Unfortunatly for me it was before I discovered photography. How I would love to go back now.

  11. Marius Schadrack Photography 36 months ago | reply

    wow a rainbow at night??

  12. Tui Brewery - Mangatainoka 33 months ago | reply

    Awesome.... I can relate to your story. Very special stuff.

  13. MaRiN_eLaNd 26 months ago | reply

    wau! nice shoot!!

  14. chrishugh 20 months ago | reply

    This is an amazing shot, so eerie, the way the car seems to float above the sand, the strange shadow that points to the horizon, and the way you can see all the colors of the moonbow. May I post it on my blog, with a credit and links to you, of course?

  15. Massimo De Dominicis 17 months ago | reply

    Grazie! Ho visto la tua foto nel gruppo/Thanks! I saw your picture in the group PHOTOGRAPHY IS LIFE


  16. Martyn William 17 months ago | reply

    I saw a Moonbow for the first time in my life last night driving on the M50 near Ledbury, England. It was an amazing sight, similar to your amazing photo but virtually white in colour. The moon was behind me in clear sky. This is an amazing image.

  17. Garry - www.visionandimagination.com 17 months ago | reply

    Thanks Martyn...its great to hear about your experience with a Moonbow. It's a fascinating sight.
    Unfortunately there are a few disbelievers who seriously think I manipulated this image. I wish for them to have once in their life time the priviledge to see a Moonbow. For me it was a one off and I am so glad I captured it.

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