Moonbow at Victoria Falls


Published: 10th April 2012

ARCHING over a world famous waterfall and invisible to the naked eye, this rainbow comes to life at NIGHT — in what could be the first picture of the phenomenon.
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The “Moonbow” was caught on camera when spray from the Victoria Falls shone in the moonlight.

Brit photographer and television presenter Charlie Hamilton James took the rarely-witnessed snap from nearby Cataract Island between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

He used a special camera technique to expose the colourful arc that usually goes unseen.

The 38-year-old said: “The photos of moon rainbows over The Devils Cataract of the Victoria Falls 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.

“Moon rainbows are not a rare phenomenon you just need the conditions — large amounts of spray and a full moon.

“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, Moonbows are in fact underwhelming to the naked eye.

Charlie, from the West Country, added: “Funnily enough it’s 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 enough to see.

“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.”

Editors note – These pictures are by no means the first pictures of the lunar rainbow at Victoria Falls since every full moon (weather permitting) there is a guided tour, and every single visitor usually carries a camera!