Honolulu Star-Bulletin - Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Tuesday, August 17, 1999

‘Moonbows’ only
appear to be black

Question: We were fishing at Kahuku Point on the North Shore in late July. About 9 p.m., we saw what looked like a black rainbow arching from the mountain to the ocean. We were stunned. It was dark, but we could see a guy fishing on the shore. He looked like he was fishing at the end of the rainbow. What was that?

Answer: It was a simple rainbow, appearing black because it was night, but visible because of the bright moon.

Michael Jones, education and evaluation specialist at the Bishop Museum's Center for Space Education, said he's seen the so-called "moonbows" himself. In fact, this is the only place he's seen them.

They coincide with a full moon and are, like daytime rainbows, the result of light refracting through water droplets in the atmosphere, he said.

If the water vapor is in the right place and you are in the right place, the bright, full moon acts "just like the sun does, and you get a rainbow at night," Jones said.

The rainbow may appear black, but "all the colors are there," he said. "It's just that you don't have a blue sky to paint it against. It would be the same as if you took a picture of a rainbow in the daytime. You cut out the rainbow part and paste it against a black background, and everything is muted."

"We seem to have the ideal conditions here, living on a tropical island full of rainbows," Jones said of the "moonbows." "They do appear on full-moon nights where you have clear skies, but you do have clouds and moisture up in the hills."

Check out the Bishop Museum Planetarium's Web site: www.bishopmuseum.org/ bishop/planet/sky.html.

There, you can tap into all sorts of information, such as dates of the "Lahaina Noon"; links to all the observatories; weather reports; satellites visible in Honolulu skies; sunrise/ sunset tables; the "green flash"; etc.

Beware: Thefts of the garden

Auwe: To the thieves who stole two Japanese stone lanterns on Aug. 7 from the yards of two Manoa homes. The lanterns were hand-carved over 35 years ago by our grandfather, who has since died. They are a cherished and irreplaceable part of our heritage. One is about 4 feet high, and the other, 3 feet high. Each is made of individual stones carved to fit one on top of the other. It is "bachi" to steal or wrongfully possess such family stones, which embody our grandfather's spirit. -- No name

Bullet Call 529-3035, during work hours, Monday-Friday, or 911 after hours, if you have information about this or similar thefts.

Police are looking into numerous thefts of bonsai plants and expensive lawn and garden ornaments over the past six months in the Manoa to East Honolulu area.

Homeowners are advised to have photos and descriptions of valuable plants and plant holders, said HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu. Police also suggest putting an identifying mark on lawn and garden ornaments in an unobtrusive place and securing them, if possible, she said.

At this point, police are stymied by the thefts, which apparently occur at night, with no witnesses.


To Delta Airlines in Honolulu for getting us home after my wife and I were left stranded by another airline. A Delta ticketing agent overheard what was happening and, without a second thought, got us on a flight that was about to depart. We were treated first class all the way. -- C.S.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

E-mail to City Desk

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