have all seen rainbows during the day but what about rainbows at
Thomas Thies of Gearhart, Oregon photographed this one after the
sun had set on December 8th 2003. He says, "The rainbow,
which lasted for about 20 minutes, was out over the ocean with the
moon rising behind us."
bright yellow lights near the horizon are crab boats.
naked eye view
The moon is the key, just as sunlight produces rainbows during the
day, moonlight can produce rainbows at night. This is a lunar
rainbow or 'moonbow'. Another moonbow
Moonbows are rare because moonlight is not very bright. 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 42º high.
Put all these together and you do not get to see a moonbow very
often! To the unaided eye they usually appear, as in the small image,
without colour because their light is not bright enough to activate
the cone colour receptors in our eyes. Nonetheless colours have been
reported and might be seen when the moon is bright.