Spectacular lunar rainbow captured in Manawatu

19:10, Mar 18 2014
CAPTURED: This 'rare' phenomenon for Manawatu was captured by photographers who were in the 'right place at the right time'.

A "rare" phenomenon in Manawatu - a lunar rainbow - has been documented by Palmerston North-based photographers who were in the right place at the right time.

Reuben and Amy Nicklin of Nicklin Visuals captured this photo of the "trippy" phenomenon which they spotted on the way home from Pohangina on Saturday night.

They were driving back to Palmerston North along Pohangina Valley East Rd, near Camp Rangi Woods, when they saw it.

"It was quite amazing, I had no idea what it was until we pulled over," Mr Nicklin said.

It was a joint effort between the two of them, Reuben on the camera and Amy holding an umbrella into the remnants of Cyclone Lusi as it swept rain and wind through the valley about 9.45pm.

Palmerston North Astronomical Society president Ian Cooper said lunar rainbows were a rare event on the Manawatu side of the Ruahine Range, but Saturday night's conditions were perfect to make it happen.


For a rainbow to be seen in moonlight, the moon had to be both bright and in exactly the right place, a small amount of rain had to be falling, and often strong winds were needed to get the full effect, he said.

"I don't think the lunar rainbow would have been visible across the region. I'd say you'd have had to have been in that area of Pohangina to see it."

In other areas of the country, particularly during a westerly on the Wairarapa side of the ranges it was more common.

"For someone to capture it over there is very rare I would say."

Manawatu Standard