Understanding The Science Of Rainbow!

Yes, rainbow is one of the best creations that nature has. We always look into the sky for this beautiful and eye-catchy colorful moment while it’s raining. Who does not want to admire the surreal splash of colors in sky? Do you know why the colors are always in same pattern? Why it happens when it’s raining? And when and how the double rainbows come up? Let’s dig out the science of rainbow and reason that every single admirer of rainbow deserves to know.

Understanding The Science Of Rainbow

It’s reflection, refraction and dispersion:
You might have heard of these terms in school days- reflection, refraction and dispersion. It’s truly an optical and meteorological phenomenon so you cannot observe it physically but can observe it from a certain distance at an angle. It’s an optical illusion that occurs when the sunlight passes through water droplets (which is the resultant of moisture in air or rain cloud), it spectrum of light appears.


Colors of Rainbow, VIBGYOR:
However, we see sunlight as white in day time, but it’s not only white! Yes, we can’t see all the colors of light normally. But the moment, when rainbow occurs, colors formation is in VIBGYOR (violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red) due to the formation of angle on water droplets in air. Each color is measured in wavelength and red has longer wavelength so you see the red color easily in rainbow.



When the light travels through the water droplets or moisture in air, after the dispersion, refraction happens. During refraction light rays get bends and change speed as well. However, a rainbow seem as arc or semi circular but in actual it’s full circle, since you sees it from ground you can’t observe the full circle.



Variations of rainbow:
If you think the rainbows that you have seen in whole life are of same type, then you are wrong. There are different types of rainbows and next time you see it in sky, try to figure out the type of it.
Primary Rainbow:
You better know the anti solar point before understanding it. Anti solar point is the shadow of your head from 42 degrees as sun is behind your head so you can see rainbow before you. Usually, red color can be seen but it also depends on the size of droplets in air.


Double Rainbow:
Aka secondary rainbow comes with primary rainbow. It’s bigger in size as reflection occurs twice instead on once. This is more prone to come up with primary rainbow you just need to identify it.

Double Rainbow Wide Desktop Background
Double Rainbow Wide Desktop Background

Supernumerary Rainbow:
With the selection of different colors; green, purple and violet strips of rainbow, supernumerary rainbow occurs. You can see the different bands of faint rainbows outside the secondary rainbow.


Twin Rainbow:
This might look like double rainbow but is not! Twin rainbow shows two rainbows having same base so it becomes hard to identify it.

Moon Bow/ Lunar Rainbow:
The beautiful moon light produces the moon bow not the sun (of course in dark night). As the moon light shines white as darker the night is. So the water drops while it’s raining, can make awesome but dull rainbow, actually moon bow.


Fog bow:
You got to be on the mountain to see this almost invisible bow. Water drops are smaller in size and it’s very low in temperature so are condensed. Therefore, you just see the arc not the colors perfectly.

Fogbow forms over flooded fields.  Field flooding due to the historic 2011 Missouri River Flood.
Fogbow forms over flooded fields. Field flooding due to the historic 2011 Missouri River Flood.

Rainbow at fountains, waterfalls, anywhere and everywhere:
Yes, rainbow colors can be seen even on a glass ruler! On a fountain at your home! Waterfall you visit on vacation, and on anywhere where refraction of light occurs even without moist in air. Though, kids are taught about this with the help of prism in schools to make them understand the colors of light but you got to go outside the house if you really want to admire the awesome rainbow view.



Facts about the rainbow you should know:
The best real fact is- rainbow arc always brings an arc of smile on everyone’s face. Let’s know more facts about awe-inspiring rainbow as given below.
• Rainbow is a word including ‘rain’ word but it does not need rain always to create rainbow. It’s all about water drops in air which can be there on anytime.
• Two people never see the same rainbow.
• It’s not an object so you can’t touch it physically but can observe it from a certain angle.
• The dark sky in between the primary and secondary arc is known as Alexander’s band.
• You too can create a rainbow all you need is to just use the hose to spread water, facing back to the sun and try to see the tiny rainbows in there.


Every natural phenomenon has scientific reasons behind its occurrence. And today we figured out the understanding of science of rainbows so you might enjoy viewing rainbow next time you see. Hope you enjoyed it!

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