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The Color Behind the Rain

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Hey, Camp Folks!

It’s April 3rd which means it’s Find a Rainbow Day, the perfect time to appreciate those colorful arches of color that you can sometimes spot after a rain shower. April is known for its rain showers (word has it they bring May flowers)—the perfect time to celebrate the beauty of rainbows. Let’s take a close look at these optical wonders and learn some of the fascinating science behind how they appear in the sky.

Is that Rainbow Waving at Me?
Rainbows appear when light gets bent, or refracted, as it passes through water droplets. The water droplets act as a prism, splitting sunlight into the colors it’s comprised of. Each color has its own wavelength and frequency when it gets reflected back towards the lucky spectator. Each color appears to arc across the sky, shifting from red to orange to yellow, then green to blue, blue to indigo, and finally violet.

A Bow Twice as Nice
Less common than their singular primary predecessor, double rainbows are an amazing sight to behold. Occurring when light gets reflected twice within the raindrop, this phenomenon appears with a fainter, secondary rainbow above the first one. The secondary rainbow displays its colors in the opposite order of the first rainbow—violet to indigo to blue, then green to yellow, yellow to orange, and lastly red.

And the Arches Comes Full Circle…
Would you believe that rainbows are actually full circles? We only see half of the circle because the horizon is typically blocking the rest. It's possible to see a rainbow as a complete circle if you’re lucky enough to spot one from an airplane. That’s because the plane is likely ABOVE the rain shower—a vantage point that reveals the entire rainbow ring.

There's definitely something special about catching a glimpse of a rainbow after a rain shower, but whether or not you're lucky enough to see a rainbow, a double rainbow, or a rain ring from high above, you can appreciate the magic of rainbows today and the science behind them. Take a moment on Find a Rainbow Day to enjoy the colorful arches that display the wonder of nature across the sky.


- John

Posted in Random Thoughts


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