About the Moonbow

Cumberland Falls, KY

Photographing the Moonbow

2018- 2020 Cumberland Falls Moonbow Schedule

Kentucky Moonbow

Waterfalls in Kentucky

The First Photo Attempt

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

Dupont Lodge

Moonbow and Lunar Rainbow Links

Current Moonbow Pictures

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What is a moonbow?

MOONBOW {moon bow} n. pl. moonbows 1. A rainbow at night caused by the light of the Sun reflecting off of the Moon. The moonbow is formed by refraction, reflection and dispersion of the Moon's rays in falling rain or mist. Moonbows form in an area opposite from the Moon in the sky.* The arch contains the colors of the spectrum in consecutive bands. At night the moonbow is faint, due to the low amount of sunlight reflecting off of the Moon. Its appearance varies from grayish white, pale colors or just plain white. Also, Moon Bow, Moon Rainbow, Lunar Rainbow, Night Rainbow, White Rainbow

 *And yes, the observer must have their back to the Moon, facing the mist.


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   Weather Fact


Rainbows aren't the only "bows" in the sky. When the moonlight refracts in raindrops and causes a pale colored bow, the results are moonbows. An example of this phenomenon is the mist emitted from Kentucky's biggest waterfall, Cumberland Falls, a water fall near Corbin , during a full moon on a clear night. A moonbow can be seen at no other falls in the Western Hemisphere.

Info from The Weather Class Room




"Rainbow at Night"   

In the dark, a crowd of people are huddled around the mighty Cumberland Falls

in Kentucky. What could hold the attention of these folks at this time of night? 

 Then, as one approaches, it becomes clear. A faint arc of multi-colored light reaches from the base of the falls downstream to the huge boulders scattered along the wild Cumberland River is a moonlit night rainbow -- a "moonbow".


For longer than time has recorded, people have been drawn to this wondrous sight at Cumberland Falls, on the border of Whitley / McCreary County Kentucky. This remarkably rare natural phenomenon draws hundreds of visitors each year to Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Southeastern Kentucky  near Corbin.

Regrettably, the moonbow is not an everyday sight. It happens only within a few days of a full moon on a clear night. It is then that the moonlight is refracted through the mist that rise up from the base of the highly debated second largest waterfall in the Eastern United States. And even during a Full Moon, sometimes hazy or foggy skies ruin the chance of seeing this amazing sight. This occurs MONTHLY...Weather and conditions permitting.




But for those fortunate enough to witness a moon rainbow, it is truly an unforgettable experience. As might be expected, it is a favorite subject for photographers. Casual shutterbugs should know that the only way to photograph a moonbow on film is to use a camera on a tripod and use a fast film with a long exposure of minutes. Digital works as well. Forget the flash; it won't work.

Only a handful of locations in the world have moonbows. One is at Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Africa. Under certain conditions, a seasonal lunar rainbow also can be seen at Yosemite Falls in California, and a diminished one at Niagara Falls in New York state.

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What are moonbows? How does a moon bow form? What causes the lunar rainbow? It's the interaction between the mist refracting light from just the right angle of the moon. It also helps that, in the case of Cumberland Falls deep in the Daniel Boone National Forest, there are no urban lights to obscure the sight. The Falls are situated in such a way as to reflect the light of the full moon and make a rainbow-like bow.

A rainbow around the moon is called a lunar halo.

The best time to see the moonbow is just after the moon has cleared the ridge looming over the Falls. It is usually visible about an hour after night fall beginning two nights before a full moon. Then, add about 30 minutes for each day, since the moon rises progressively later.

Things to bring to a Moonbow or Lunar Rainbow



  For more information on the park and Cumberland Falls  

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This is Ky State Information without the Moonbow Schedule and with some additions and subtractions. I couldn't have explained all this any better. I hope they don't mind.


A rainbow at night is called a moonbow or a lunar rainbow. 







  What is a moonbow? Rainbows that can form at night from the light of the moon . Moonbows are most easily seen when the moon is near a full moon

What happens when you are under a rainbow?

You can't