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Yosemite: You saw the supermoon, but did you catch the moonbow?

May 08, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • Moonbow at Yosemite Falls, taken Saturday on the night of the biggest full moon of the year.
Moonbow at Yosemite Falls, taken Saturday on the night of the biggest full… (Jarrod Lyman / Yosemite…)

While some of us were hunting for a good, dark spot to gaze at the biggest moon of the year on Saturday, Jarrod Lyman headed over to Yosemite National Park where he captured something other than the moon with his camera: a moonbow.

Lyman, who works for the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau in Oakhurst, Calif., said via e-mail there were "tripods and cameras everywhere taking advantage of the conditions."  His photograph shows Yosemite Falls with a moonbow emerging from the mist of its waters.

I had never heard of a moonbow until a few years ago when L.A. Times photographer Mark Boster assembled his impressive collection of Yosemite photographs and explained it -- and how to photograph one for yourself.

"The most popular phenomenon happens every year in May and June when the moon is full. Photographers from all over the world come to witness an event that happens when the full moon is in perfect alignment with the mist of the Yosemite Falls.

"They even have a name for it: "moonbow," a feat of nature in which each component clicks into place like a Swiss timepiece. The full moon has to rise to a perfect angle, clearing the granite walls of the valley so light rays can diffract the heavy mist off the roaring waterfall. Each time this happens, there's roughly a one-hour window of time before the angle of the moon changes and the moonbow disappears."

Read more of Boster's tips on photographing Yosemite and the Ultimate Guide to Yosemite.

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