Double Rainbow Delight

Double rainbow

Double Rainbow!

My teen and I made an emergency French Silk Pie  run between the storms that descended on Chicago today, and much to our delight we were treated to a double rainbow.

Emergency averted, safely home again, I google a few rainbow facts to share along with the pictures.

Double rainbow

~ The sun is always behind you when you face a rainbow, and the center of the arc of that rainbow is in the direction opposite to that of the sun. Yet the rain, of course, is in the direction of the rainbow.

~ We don’t see a full circle of rainbow, because the earth blocks it. The lower the sun is to the horizon, the more of the rainbow we can see. Sunset we see the most, a full semicircle of the rainbow with the arch 42 degrees above the horizon. The higher the sun goes up in the sky, the smaller the arch is above the horizon.

~ The primary rainbow forms between about 40° and 42° from the antisolar point. The light path involves refraction and a single reflection inside the water droplet. If the drops are large, 1 millimeter or more in diameter, red, green, and violet are bright but there is little blue. As the droplets get smaller, red weakens. In fine mist, all colors except violet may disappear. Even finer fog droplets, smaller than 0.05 mm, produce the white rainbow or fog bow.

~ Rainbows are not seen in midday since the whole 42° circle is below the horizon at most latitudes. So rainbows tend to be seen most in the later afternoon when a thundershower has passed and the sun from the west is shining on the receding edge of a raincloud moving east. It is possible to see the entire circle of the rainbow from an airplane since there can be falling droplets both above and below you.


~ The single (original) rainbow is known as the “primary rainbow”. It always has the color red on the outside (top) of the bow, and the color violet on the inside (bottom) of the bow.

~ The primary rainbow always appears lower in the sky, morning or evening.

~ You can never be directly under a rainbow.

No two people can ever see the same rainbow. As the eyes of two people cannot occupy the same place in space at the same time, each observer sees a different rainbow. This is because the raindrops are constantly in motion so its appearance is always changing. Each time you see a rainbow, it is unique from all the others. In fact, each eye sees its own rainbow!

~ Some rainbows have faint arcs just inside and near the top of the primary bow, known as supernumerary arcs.

~ The sky is brighter inside the rainbow due to the rainbow ray.

Spectrum of colors
On canvas of rainy sky
Paint from nature’s brush

Odd Loves Company!


You really want to see the pie, don’t you?


5 thoughts on “Double Rainbow Delight

  1. So beautiful — and did you know there’s an odd phenomena of an upside-down rainbow? Yep, Google it. It’s like a smile in the sky! Glad you’re safe!

    • I did google it! And now I must see one! I love the idea of a rainbow smile.
      Chicago seemed to have weathered the storm pretty well, but it was an ugly day. Hope the same is true in your neck of the woods.

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