Somewhere, over the moonbow, way up high,
Napier South resident Jody Hesketh caught sight of a rare lunar spectacle.

A moonbow, also known as a lunar rainbow or white rainbow, appeared in Hawke's Bay's night sky on Wednesday.

Moonbows, as the name suggests, are produced by moonlight rather than direct sunlight.

Wellington Astronomical Society president Antony Gomez said a build-up of moisture in the air causes the effect like a normal rainbow does.


Napier South resident Jody Hesketh captured the moonbow among the city's famous Norfolk pines from a spot on Te Awa Ave.

"It is based on the same principle of rainbows formed by sunlight being diffracted by water molecules or ice particles in the atmosphere but in this case the light source is moonlight," Gomez said.

"I have seen rainbow halos around the moon but these are circular encompassing the moon."

Although the event isn't all that rare, Gomez said the phenomenon at night can only be caused by a full moon, due to its brightness.

With the effect of a lunar eclipse the night before, it made it even clearer, he said.

Hawke's Bay Today editor Craig Cooper said it was the first time he had seen a moonbow photograph.

"Thanks Jody, for sending this in, it's great to share it with our readers."