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I Just Learned About Moon Rainbows And They're Totally Beautiful

It's like something out of a science fiction movie.

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Rainbows are a universal symbol of pride, love, hope, and a brand new day.

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And the subject of this very fresh and relevant meme.

But did you know that there is also such a thing as a night rainbow????

It's called a lunar rainbow, or, cutely, a moonbow.

Moonbows are formed the same way as day rainbows, by refraction of light in water droplets.

However, with a moonbow, that light comes from — you guessed it — the moon, not the sun.

If you've seen a halo, or corona, around the moon, then you've seen a type of moonbow.

Specifically, lunar halos are formed by moonlight refracting ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. Fun fact: Moon halos are always 22 degrees away from the moon!
Flickr: 56279172@N04

Specifically, lunar halos are formed by moonlight refracting ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. Fun fact: Moon halos are always 22 degrees away from the moon!

If you're trying to spot a more distinct moonbow IRL, here are a few tips:

1. They're most often visible during a full moon, when light is bright enough to empower refraction.

2. Moonbows often appear white to the naked eye, because moonlight is dimmer than sunlight and doesn't trigger your eyes' color receptors with the same intensity.

The colors will be more plainly visible in a photograph that uses a long exposure time.
Flickr: 55198242@N03

The colors will be more plainly visible in a photograph that uses a long exposure time.

3. "Spray moonbows" are pretty reliably seen near waterfalls, which fill the air with water droplets.

Yosemite Falls in California, Cumberland Falls in Kentucky, and Victoria Falls in southern Africa are all good places to spot lunar rainbows. Go when there's a full moon!
Flickr: 32782751@N07

Yosemite Falls in California, Cumberland Falls in Kentucky, and Victoria Falls in southern Africa are all good places to spot lunar rainbows. Go when there's a full moon!

Happy moonbow hunting!

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