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Over the moonbow: A rare rainbow shows its colors in the spring sky

By Adriana Navarro, AccuWeather staff writer
March 22, 2019, 3:21:07 PM EDT


The super worm moon lit up the night sky on Wednesday's spring equinox, creating a rare phenomenon called a lunar rainbow, or a 'moonbow,' in the United Kingdom.

Where sunlight reflecting off water in the atmosphere creates rainbows, moonlight can create a similar effect. However, as moonlight isn't as bright as sunlight, lunar rainbows are more uncommon than other types of "bows."

"They are rare because moonlight simply is not nearly as bright as sunlight, but the mechanism of water droplets reflecting light causes them to form," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said.


"[The] best time to see one is during a full moon, either in the evening with full darkness or late pre-dawn," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews said.

The light from the super worm moon seemed to be just enough to let the moonbow show its colors.

Because of the dimness of the moonlight, most of the lunar rainbows appear white.

"Low-intensity light tends to have weak color, especially at the red end," Andrews said.

It's during full moons that smaller lunar rainbows are visible at Cumberland Falls, Kentucky, over the water.

Another in the night sky was captured in 2016 over the U.K. during a Hunter's Moon, or a blood moon.


Occurring just a few days after St. Patrick's Day, catching sight of a lunar rainbow was a real stroke of luck.

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