YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (CBS13) – A rare sight to see happens at Yosemite National Park every spring, but you have to be determined and patient if you want to catch it.
Lunar rainbows, or Moonbows, happen between April and June. The rare atmospheric phenomena only occur during a full moon, when there’s enough light coming into Yosemite.READ MORE: More Tree Limbs Drop In Summer — And Drought Isn’t Helping, Experts Say
“It’s basically this big dance between the angle, the moon and you and the waterfalls and the spray coming off the water,” said professional photographer Joshua Cripps.
Cripps is one of many photographers chasing moonbows, hoping to capture the perfect image on camera.
“A moonbow is this amazing interplay of light and water,” said Cory Goehring, lead naturalist at Yosemite Conservancy.
Moonbows are created in the spring when there’s more water coming down the waterfalls from all the snowmelt. Light is leaving the sun from 93 million miles away, traveling 8.5 minutes, reflecting itself off the moon and then interplaying with the mist from the waterfall.
“The light will actually slow down ever so slightly and then reflect out of that water droplet, and from that reflection, the light will split into its different wavelengths,” said Goehring.
That’s what creates the silvery-white rare atmospheric phenomena, but capturing it on camera is not easy.
“So I’m just sitting there, I’ve got all my layers, my jacket is up. I’m just huddling up there,” said Cripps. “You know there are times when you doubt your sanity as a photographer.”READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Will You Get Another Relief Payment?
“Standing there where you’re getting splashed with water when it’s in the 40s at nighttime and it’s really cold,” said professional photographer Dakota Snider.
“So it’s just a lot of sitting down and waiting, and being cold,” said professional photographer RJ Franklin.
But considering that silver-white moonbow only comes into color in a photo, every photographer will say it’s worth waiting for.
“Just this wonderful sense of accomplishment and joy and wonder that these things exist,” said Cripps. “It’s worth it. It’s worth it.”
“When they get that shot it’s one of those things where it’s like Oh my gosh I’ve done it! This is so cool,” said Snider.
“And then I saw what it made and was like, oh wow, this is a pretty good one,” said Franklin.
The pandemic added one more hurdle to catch a moonbow as reservations are now required to visit Yosemite.MORE NEWS: Cooling Centers Open In Sacramento Region This Week
“Like so many times in Yosemite, it almost brought me to tears. It was just absolutely magical,” said Goehring.