≡ Menu

Moonbows over Leaside?

This a photo of a meteorite and a Moonbow around a Hunter's Moon. A moonbow is technically known as a 22? moon halo. The 22? Moon Halo is formed when moonlight passes through ice crystals in the atmosphere and are refracted approximately 22?.One of the difficulties of being a small town in the middle of a great metropolis is that Toronto keeps intruding on our airspace.

I don’t mean planes on flight paths to Pearson, but rather the lights from the city that spoil star-gazing for Leasiders. It really isn’t very good for us, even on the darkest nights, because Toronto has a way of polluting our darkness.

I don’t ask for much here – I’m not an astronomy buff looking for the moons of Jupiter – but it would be nice to see the Milky Way now and then from, say, second base in Talbot Park.

There was a time almost 20 years ago when comet Hale-Bopp captured everyone’s attention and I determined that I would see it without having to drive into the countryside. So I wound up late at night comet-gazing in Sunnybrook Park in a very snowy, icy winter season. For some reason (getting a closer view?) it seemed a good idea to climb up a big pile of snow. I promptly fell down, and finished the evening in the ER at Sunnybrook Hospital, explaining to amused staff how comet-watching could lead to cracked ribs.

Our little granddaughter had better luck very early one morning in the second year of her life when she was being carried to the car to leave for the airport. She looked up, pointed, and said, clearly, “tar,” one of her first words.

I now have a new sort of sky-watching mission. In a book about life on the Orkney Islands I recently came across a reference to the appearance of moonbows. Yes, moonbows! I’m not making this up: the light of the moon reflecting off raindrops can create the nocturnal equivalent of a rainbow. Most moonbows tend to be pale white, but they can also come in all the colours of rainbows.

I had never heard of this phenomenon, nor has anyone to whom I’ve mentioned it. But it does exist. If you doubt me, Google “moonbows”.

Do we get moonbows over Leaside? I don’t know. Has any reader of Leaside Life seen one? They would occur after or during showers on nights when the moon is full and bright (and it’s true they’re more easily observed near great waterfalls).

I’d like to see a moonbow before I die. Call it lunacy if you like. But when the conditions are right this winter you may find me out moonbow-watching in Talbot or Sunnybrook Park, cursing the lights of Toronto, and trying not to fall down while looking up.

When I see this wonder, I will point to it with all the delight of a two-year old, and say very clearly: “moon-bow”.