Spectacular lunar rainbow in Victoria Falls

British photographer snaps spectacular lunar rainbow over Victoria Falls
British photographer snaps spectacular lunar rainbow over Victoria Falls


You'd be forgiven for thinking this was a beautiful spring morning, but the stunning lightshow over the Victoria Falls was actually captured at night.

This incredible sight is a lunar rainbow, known as a 'moonbow', and was caused by the light of a bright moon hitting the water, which sprays up to 1,000-feet into the air.

The phenomenon was captured under the gaze of a full moon over The Devils Cataract section of the falls.

Photographer and television presenter, Charlie Hamilton James, travelled to Cataract Island on the Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia, where he managed to observe this rarely witnessed event.

He told Barcroft Media: "The photos of moon rainbows over The Devils Cataract are probably the first ever taken.

"Victoria Falls is also known as 'the smoke that thunders' because it creates such a huge spray of water - up to a mile high. This is obviously perfect conditions for rainbows - both day and night rainbows.

"We took them from Cataract Island in Zimbabwe and I spent several nights shooting more time lapses and also still images."

"Moon rainbows are not a rare phenomenon you just need the conditions - large amounts of spray and a full moon," said Charlie.

"I'm sure moon rainbows happen all over the place but most will be too faint to see. Victoria Falls is one of the largest falls on earth and so creates the massive amounts of spray needed."

Spectacular when photographed, the 'moonbow' was in fact underwhelming to the naked eye.

Charlie explained: "Funnily enough its not too impressive to the naked eye, it's just a faint white milky arc with no colour in it."

"The joy of photography is that we can keep the camera shutter open for a long time and reveal the true nature of the light that our eyes are simply not sensitive to see.

"Even though they don't look so impressive to the naked eye, it's still a very cool thing to witness.

"Seeing them exposed on the screen on the back of the camera was very cool.

"It was not easy getting into the locations we needed to be to shoot the images and we had to shoot them on the few days over the full moon.

"So when it all came together it was very exciting."

At 330-feet high and nearly one mile wide, the Victoria Falls is the world's largest curtain of falling water. Fed by the 1,600-miles-long Zambezi River an astonishing 137million gallons of water passes over the Falls per minute.

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