Hail To The Chief: Nature’s Most Splendid Masterpiece

James Zahara Weather Blog

Nature’s artwork has been a sight of late when a shower or thunderstorm passes by.  That sight is the rainbow with its dazzling display of colors in the sky.

We’ve seen these spectacles with the help of you, the viewer, which you can still check out on our website.

I’m often asked when visiting schools how one develops and if there’s really gold at the end of a rainbow.  Gold?  Laddie, we all wish that!

The bending of sunlight by the raindrops is the key to forming colorful rainbows.  For a rainbow to be seen, the sun must be behind you while facing the falling rain.  Sunlight is bent or refracted as it enters a raindrop, which causes the different wavelengths or colors of visible light (red, orange yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet). Longer wavelengths of light (red) are bent the least while shorter wavelengths (violet) are bent the most.  When this light hits the back of the raindrop it bounces off or reflected.  The reflected light is refracted again as it exits the drop.

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Even double rainbows have been caught on camera by many viewers!  In some cases, light is reflected twice by each raindrop, forming a larger, fainter secondary rainbow outside the primary rainbow. The colors of the secondary rainbow are in reverse order from the primary rainbow.

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