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11 stunning images of rainbows and their less-famous cousins

By: Katherine Butler on July 29, 2016, 2:55 p.m.
Moonbow in St. John, in the Virgin Islands

Photo: Matt BenDaniel/NASA

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Moonbow with sailboats

Pictured here is a moonbow, also known as a lunar rainbow, as imaged on July 4, 2001, near Salt Pond Bay in St. John, Virgin Islands. Moonbows operate on the same principles as rainbows; however, they are possible because of the light of the moon instead of the sun. As moonlight is simply reflected sunlight, the colors of a moonbow are the same as a rainbow. Accordingly, as the sun is much brighter than the moon, moonbows are much fainter and rarer than rainbows. While they usually look white to the human eye, their colors can be discerned in long exposure photos.