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Storified by Accu Weather · Thu, Oct 11 2012 10:32:11
Rainbows can occur virtually anywhere, but not moonbows. Theses breath-taking sights are confined to but a few sports in the United States. What makes moonbows rare is the position the moon must be in the sky, while still having falling rain. Though moonbows are beautiful to witness they are also often very difficult to see with the naked eye. Moonbows are just like rainbows, only they happen at night when moonlight shines on water droplets. They are also known as lunar rainbows.
"Moonbows are rare because moonlight is not very bright," said Les Cowley, an expert in atmospheric optics. "A bright moon near to full is needed, it must be raining opposite the moon, the sky must be dark and the moon must be less than 42° high."
"Put all these together and you do not get to see a moonbow very often!" Cowley added.
Waterfalls can aid with the "raining opposite the moon" requirement, and Yosemite has plenty of waterfalls. The park also doesn't have the problem of light pollution, making it a prime location to look for moonbows.
Cowley explained that to the unaided eye, moonbows usually appear without color because their light is not bright enough to activate cone color receptors in our eyes. However, he said that colors have been reported and might be seen when the moon is bright.
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