Home » Sightseeing » Yosemite Falls Moonbow

Sightseeing in Yosemite

Chasing the Moonbow

Spring comes to Yosemite Valley and brings with it the spectacle of the many thunderous waterfalls, spraying clouds mist into the air and filling the valley with the sounds of revitalization. Yosemite Falls is glorious sight by daytime; but if you are lucky an even more magical sight at night.  Sometimes at night when there is a full moon and there is a lot of runoff from the spring thaw, you can spot a moonbow.  This is a phenomenon that John Muir called a “grand arc of color … amid the rush and roar and tumultuous dashing of this thunder-voiced fall…”

Faint to the human eye, a camera can best capture the marvel of the colorful moonbow.  The reason is the cones of the eye do not have enough light in a moonbow to see color, so they often white.  But with film, you can take a long exposure and see the vivid colors for real. Moonbows, for example, are made from moonlight and drops of water, and the mist generated by waterfalls provides a perfect medium to produce them.

Many are fouled by the colored circle around the moon.  This is not the moonbow. In fact, moonbows are most easily seen when the moon is full or at its brightest. The moon must also be low in the sky and the rest of the sky must be dark. When this happens, look just above the spray of the falls. In these unique occasions both camera and eye will see the “grand arc of color” that Muir described.    The best time for this to occur is during spring and early summer.

Don Olson, from the Department of Physics at Texas State University has set up a website that will tell you the exact dates and times that a moonbow will occur in the falls of Yosemite.  Just Google his name and you will find his page.  All the information you need to see them is there.

Wouldn't this be a great time to see it for yourself?

Keywords: Sightseeing, Photography, Nature ,moonbows, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Falls, Waterfalls, John Muir

El Capitan in Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Falls is glorious sight by daytime...

Pine Arbor Retreat Home