Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cumberland Falls Moonbow

What exactly is a moonbow? It is basically a rainbow created from the light of the moon instead of the sun. There are only two places in the world where this phenomenon occurs on a predictable schedule. One is Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Africa. The second is Cumberland Falls in Corbin, Kentucky. There are a few other places moonbows can be seen during the right time of year, if conditions are good. But at these two locations the monbow can be viewed at each full moon throughout the year.

Being the spontaneous, unpredictable guy I am (just ask Kristin), I decided Friday after work we would drive the 80 miles to Cumberland Falls to see the moonbow that night. Okay, Kristin came up with the idea and I did not object. The moon was 99% full, and the skies seemed fairly clear.

As we drove south the clouds were closing in. The moonbow opportunity was not looking good. We arrived at the falls and decided to walk down the trail to get some waterfall photos. It was dark, and the trail was not lit. As most people did not think to bring flashlights (we are not most people), the viewing areas down the trail were empty. We set up the tripods and took some photos. We watched people in the distance trying to get photos with their point and shoot cameras, the flashes going off at random intervals. We chuckled a little as the flash does no good in these circumstances. Our exposures on the tripods ranged from 5 to 15 minutes each.

Here is a photo of the waterfall from one of the viewing areas.

Around 11:00pm we headed back towards the main viewing area. The full moon was now visible, but it was rather hazy and the moonbow was not present. However, there were plenty of people determined to find it. They would methodically scan the falls with their flashlights searching in earnest for the moonbow. I suspect these were the same folks that ask if the falls are turned off at night.

I setup and took a photo from the viewing area. As I was finishing up the clouds cleared out, and the full moon shined brightly overhead. As I worked my way back to Kristin and Rachael, Kristin had found the moonbow and was taking a photo. I setup next to her and took a few photos. Note that I only took a few, as each exposure was 5 to 8 minutes.

When you witness a moonbow your eyes see a light arc over the water. Individual colors are not really visible. When photographed, the colors can be faintly seen. It is incredible to experience, as very few people have observed the marvel. And I was able to come away with a moonbow photo.


Kristin said...

Spontaneous and unpredictable, that's you handsome.

I'll mark you down for this time again next year for another burst of creativity and spontaneity.

love you! ;o)

Lorie said...