Rainbow: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Semicircular double rainbow. Supernumerary rainbows on the inside of the primary arc. Shadow of the photographer marks the centre of the rainbow circle (antisolar point).

A rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that causes a spectrum of light to appear in the sky when the Sun shines onto droplets of moisture in the Earth's atmosphere. They take the form of a multicoloured arc, with red on the outer part of the arch and violet on the inner section of the arch.


A rainbow spans a continuous spectrum of colours; the discrete bands are an artefact of human colour vision. The most commonly cited and remembered sequence, in English, is Newton's sevenfold red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet (popularly memorized by mnemonics like Roy G. Biv). Rainbows can be caused by other forms of water than rain, including mist, spray, and dew.

Rainbows may also form in mist, such as that of a waterfall
Rainbow with a faint reflected rainbow in the lake



Rainbows may also form in the spray created by waves (called spray bows).

Rainbows can be observed whenever there are water drops in the air and sunlight shining from behind at a low altitude angle. The most spectacular rainbow displays happen when half of the sky is still dark with raining clouds and the observer is at a spot with clear sky in the direction of the Sun. The result is a luminous rainbow that contrasts with the darkened background.

The rainbow effect is also commonly seen near waterfalls or fountains. In addition, the effect can be artificially created by dispersing water droplets into the air during a sunny day. Rarely, a moonbow, lunar rainbow or nighttime rainbow, can be seen on strongly moonlit nights. As human visual perception for colour is poor in low light, moonbows are often perceived to be white.[1] It is difficult to photograph the complete semicircle of a rainbow in one frame, as this would require an angle of view of 84°. For a 35 mm camera, a lens with a focal length of 19 mm or less wide-angle lens would be required. Now that powerful software for stitching several images into a panorama is available, images of the entire arc and even secondary arcs can be created fairly easily from a series of overlapping frames. From an aeroplane, one has the opportunity to see the whole circle of the rainbow, with the plane's shadow in the centre. This phenomenon can be confused with the glory, but a glory is usually much smaller, covering only 5°–20°.

At good visibility conditions (for example, a dark cloud behind the rainbow), the second arc can be seen, with inverse order of colours. At the background of the blue sky, the second arc is barely visible.

Scientific explanation

The light is first refracted entering the surface of the raindrop, reflected off the back of the drop, and again refracted as it leaves the drop. The overall effect is that the incoming light is reflected back over a wide range of angles, with the most intense light at an angle of 40°–42°. The angle is independent of the size of the drop, but does depend on its refractive index. Seawater has a higher refractive index than rain water, so the radius of a 'rainbow' in sea spray is smaller than a true rainbow. This is visible to the naked eye by a misalignment of these bows.[2] The amount by which light is refracted depends upon its wavelength, and hence its colour. Blue light (shorter wavelength) is refracted at a greater angle than red light, but due to the reflection of light rays from the back of the droplet, the blue light emerges from the droplet at a smaller angle to the original incident white light ray than the red light. You may then think it is strange that the pattern of colours in a rainbow has red on the outside of the arc and blue on the inside. However, when we examine this issue more closely, we realise that if the red light from one droplet is seen by an observer, then the blue light from that droplet will not be seen because it must be on a different path from the red light: a path which is not incident with the observer's eyes. The blue light seen in this rainbow will therefore come from a different droplet, which must be below that whose red light can be observed.

Contrary to popular belief, the light at the back of the raindrop does not undergo total internal reflection, and some light does emerge from the back. However, light coming out the back of the raindrop does not create a rainbow between the observer and the sun because spectra emitted from the back of the raindrop do not have a maximum of intensity, as the other visible rainbows do, and thus the colours blend together rather than forming a rainbow.[3]

Light rays enter a raindrop from one direction (typically a straight line from the Sun), reflect off the back of the raindrop, and fan out as they leave the raindrop. The light leaving the rainbow is spread over a wide angle, with a maximum intensity at 40.89°–42°.
White light separates into different colours on entering the raindrop because red light is refracted by a lesser angle than blue light. On leaving the raindrop, the red rays have turned through a smaller angle than the blue rays, producing a rainbow.

A rainbow does not actually exist at a particular location in the sky. Its apparent position depends on the observer's location and the position of the sun. All raindrops refract and reflect the sunlight in the same way, but only the light from some raindrops reaches the observer's eye. This light is what constitutes the rainbow for that observer. The position of a rainbow in the sky is always in the opposite direction of the Sun with respect to the observer, and the interior is always slightly brighter than the exterior. The bow is centred on the shadow of the observer's head, or more exactly at the antisolar point (which is below the horizon during the daytime), appearing at an angle of 40°–42° to the line between the observer's head and its shadow. As a result, if the Sun is higher than 42°, then the rainbow is below the horizon and cannot be seen as there are not usually sufficient raindrops between the horizon (that is: eye height) and the ground, to contribute. Exceptions occur when the observer is high above the ground, for example in an aeroplane (see above), on top of a mountain, or above a waterfall.


Some light reflects twice inside the raindrop before exiting to the viewer. When the incident light is very bright, this can be seen as a secondary rainbow, brightest at 50°–53°.
A double rainbow features reversed colours in the outer (secondary) bow, with the dark Alexander's band between the bows.

Frequently, a dim secondary rainbow is seen outside the primary bow. Secondary rainbows are caused by a double reflection of sunlight inside the raindrops, and appear at an angle of 50°–53°. As a result of the second reflection, the colours of a secondary rainbow are inverted compared to the primary bow, with blue on the outside and red on the inside. The dark area of unlit sky lying between the primary and secondary bows is called Alexander's band, after Alexander of Aphrodisias who first described it.

A third, or tertiary, rainbow can be seen on rare occasions, and a few observers have reported seeing quadruple rainbows in which a dim outermost arc had a rippling and pulsating appearance. These rainbows would appear on the same side of the sky as the Sun, making them hard to spot. One type of tertiary rainbow carries with it the appearance of a secondary rainbow immediately outside the primary bow. The closely spaced outer bow has been observed to form dynamically at the same time that the outermost (tertiary) rainbow disappears. During this change, the two remaining rainbows have been observed to merge into a band of white light with a blue inner and red outer band. This particular form of doubled rainbow is not like the classic double rainbow due to both spacing of the two bows and that the two bows share identical normal colour positioning before merging. With both bows, the inner colour is blue and the outer colour is red.

Higher-order rainbows were described by Felix Billet (1808–1882) who depicted angular positions up to the 19th-order rainbow. A pattern he called “rose”.[4] In the laboratory, it is possible to observe higher-order rainbows by using extremely bright and well collimated light produced by lasers. A sixth-order rainbow was first observed by K. Sassan in 1979 using a HeNe laser beam and a pendant water drop.[5] Up to the 200th-order rainbow was reported by Ng et al. in 1998 using a similar method but an argon ion laser beam.[6]

Supernumerary rainbow

A contrast-enhanced photograph of a supernumerary rainbow, with additional green and purple arcs inside the primary bow.

A supernumerary rainbow is an infrequent phenomenon, consisting of several faint rainbows on the inner side of the primary rainbow, and very rarely also outside the secondary rainbow. Supernumerary rainbows are slightly detached and have pastel colour bands that do not fit the usual pattern.

It is not possible to explain their existence using classical geometric optics. The alternating faint rainbows are caused by interference between rays of light following slightly different paths with slightly varying lengths within the raindrops. Some rays are in phase, reinforcing each other through constructive interference, creating a bright band; others are out of phase by up to half a wavelength, cancelling each other out through destructive interference, and creating a gap. Given the different angles of refraction for rays of different colours, the patterns of interference are slightly different for rays of different colours, so each bright band is differentiated in colour, creating a miniature rainbow. Supernumerary rainbows are clearest when raindrops are small and of similar size. The very existence of supernumerary rainbows was historically a first indication of the wave nature of light, and the first explanation was provided by Thomas Young in 1804.

Reflected rainbow, reflection rainbow

Reflection rainbow and normal rainbow, at sunset

When a rainbow appears above a body of water, two complementary mirror bows may be seen below and above the horizon, originating from different light paths. Their names are slightly different. A reflected rainbow will appear as a mirror image in the water surface below the horizon, if the surface is quiet (see photo above). The sunlight is first deflected by the raindrops, and then reflected off the body of water, before reaching the observer. The reflected rainbow is frequently visible, at least partially, even in small puddles.

Where sunlight reflects off a body of water before reaching the raindrops (see diagram), it may produce a reflection rainbow (see photo at the right), if the water body is large, and quiet over its entire surface, and close to the rain curtain. The reflection rainbow appears above the horizon. It intersects the normal rainbow at the horizon, and its arc reaches higher in the sky. Due to the combination of requirements, a reflection rainbow is rarely visible.

Six (or even eight) bows may be distinguished if the reflection of the reflection bow, and the secondary bow with its reflections happen to appear simultaneously.[7]

Circumhorizontal arc

The circumhorizontal arc is sometimes referred to by the misnomer 'fire rainbow'. As it originates in ice crystals, it is not a rainbow but a halo.[8]

Rainbows on Titan

It has been suggested that rainbows might exist on Saturn's moon Titan, as it has a wet surface and humid clouds. The radius of a Titan rainbow would be about 49° instead of 42°, because the fluid in that cold environment is methane instead of water. A visitor might need infrared goggles to see the rainbow, as Titan's atmosphere is more transparent for those wavelengths.[9]

Scientific history

The Islamic physicist and polymath, Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen; 965-1039), attempted to provide a scientific explanation for the rainbow phenomenon. In his Maqala fi al-Hala wa Qaws Quzah (On the Rainbow and Halo), he "explained the formation of rainbow as an image, which forms at a concave mirror. If the rays of light coming from a farther light source reflect to any point on axis of the concave mirror, they form concentric circles in that point. When it is supposed that the sun as a farther light source, the eye of viewer as a point on the axis of mirror and a cloud as a reflecting surface, then it can be observed the concentric circles are forming on the axis."[10] He was not able to verify this because his theory that "light from the sun is reflected by a cloud before reaching the eye" did not allow for a possible experimental verification.[11] This explanation was later repeated by Averroes,[10] and, though incorrect, provided the groundwork for the correct explanations later given by Kamāl al-Dīn al-Fārisī (1267-ca.1319/1320) and Theodoric of Freiberg.[12]

Ibn al-Haytham's contemporary, the Persian philosopher and polymath Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna; 980-1037), provided an alternative explanation, writing "that the bow is not formed in the dark cloud but rather in the very thin mist lying between the cloud and the sun or observer. The cloud, he thought, serves simply as the background of this thin substance, much as a quicksilver lining is placed upon the rear surface of the glass in a mirror. Ibn Sīnā would change the place not only of the bow, but also of the colour formation, holding the iridescence to be merely a subjective sensation in the eye."[13] This explanation, however, was also incorrect.[10]

In Song Dynasty China (960–1279), a polymathic scholar-official named Shen Kuo (1031–1095) hypothesized—as a certain Sun Sikong (1015–1076) did before him—that rainbows were formed by a phenomenon of sunlight encountering droplets of rain in the air.[14] Paul Dong writes that Shen's explanation of the rainbow as a phenomenon of atmospheric refraction "is basically in accord with modern scientific principles."[15]

The Persian astronomer, Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi (1236–1311), gave a fairly accurate explanation for the rainbow phenomenon. This was elaborated on by his student, Kamāl al-Dīn al-Fārisī (1260–1320), who gave a more mathematically satisfactory explanation of the rainbow. He "proposed a model where the ray of light from the sun was refracted twice by a water droplet, one or more reflections occurring between the two refractions." He verified this through extensive experimentation using a transparent sphere filled with water and a camera obscura.[11] As he noted in his Kitab Tanqih al-Manazir (The Revision of the Optics), al-Farisi used a large clear vessel of glass in the shape of a sphere, which was filled with water, in order to have an experimental large-scale model of a rain drop. He then placed this model within a camera obscura that has a controlled aperture for the introduction of light. He projected light unto the sphere and ultimately deducted through several trials and detailed observations of reflections and refractions of light that the colours of the rainbow are phenomena of the decomposition of light. His research had resonances with the studies of his contemporary Theodoric of Freiberg (without any contacts between them; even though they both relied on Ibn al-Haytham's legacy), and later with the experiments of Descartes and Newton in dioptrics (for instance, Newton conducted a similar experiment at Trinity College, though using a prism rather than a sphere).[16][17][18][19]

In Europe, Ibn al-Haytham's Book of Optics was translated into Latin and studied by Robert Grosseteste. His work on light was continued by Roger Bacon, who wrote in his Opus Majus of 1268 about experiments with light shining through crystals and water droplets showing the colours of the rainbow.[20] Theodoric of Freiberg is known to have given an accurate theoretical explanation of both the primary and secondary rainbows in 1307. He explained the primary rainbow, noting that "when sunlight falls on individual drops of moisture, the rays undergo two refractions (upon ingress and egress) and one reflection (at the back of the drop) before transmission into the eye of the observer".[21] He explained the secondary rainbow through a similar analysis involving two refractions and two reflections.

René Descartes' sketch of how primary and secondary rainbows are formed

Descartes 1637 treatise, Discourse on Method, further advanced this explanation. Knowing that the size of raindrops did not appear to affect the observed rainbow, he experimented with passing rays of light through a large glass sphere filled with water. By measuring the angles that the rays emerged, he concluded that the primary bow was caused by a single internal reflection inside the raindrop and that a secondary bow could be caused by two internal reflections. He supported this conclusion with a derivation of the law of refraction (subsequently, but independently of, Snell) and correctly calculated the angles for both bows. His explanation of the colours, however, was based on a mechanical version of the traditional theory that colours were produced by a modification of white light.[22][23]

Isaac Newton demonstrated that white light was composed of the light of all the colours of the rainbow, which a glass prism could separate into the full spectrum of colours, rejecting the theory that the colours were produced by a modification of white light. He also showed that red light gets refracted less than blue light, which led to the first scientific explanation of the major features of the rainbow.[24] Newton's corpuscular theory of light was unable to explain supernumerary rainbows, and a satisfactory explanation was not found until Thomas Young realised that light behaves as a wave under certain conditions, and can interfere with itself.

Young's work was refined in the 1820s by George Biddell Airy, who explained the dependence of the strength of the colours of the rainbow on the size of the water droplets. Modern physical descriptions of the rainbow are based on Mie scattering, work published by Gustav Mie in 1908. Advances in computational methods and optical theory continue to lead to a fuller understanding of rainbows. For example, Nussenzveig provides a modern overview.[25]


Religion and mythology

The end of a rainbow.

The rainbow has a place in legend owing to its beauty and the historical difficulty in explaining the phenomenon.

In Greek mythology, the rainbow was considered to be a path made by a messenger (Iris) between Earth and Heaven. In Chinese mythology, the rainbow was a slit in the sky sealed by Goddess Nüwa using stones of five different colours.

In Hindu mythology, the rainbow is called "Indradhanush", meaning the bow (Sanskrit & Hindi: dhanush is bow) of Indra, the God of lightning, thunder and rain. Another Indian mythology says rainbow is the bow of Kama, the God of love. It is called Kamanabillu in Kannada, billu meaning bow. Likewise, in mythology of Arabian Peninsula, rainbow, called Qaus Quzaħ in Arabic, is the war bow of the god Quzaħ.

In Norse Mythology, a rainbow called the Bifröst Bridge connects the realms of Ásgard and Midgard, homes of the gods and humans, respectively. The Irish leprechaun's secret hiding place for his pot of gold is usually said to be at the end of the rainbow. This place is impossible to reach, because the rainbow is an optical effect which depends on the location of the viewer. When walking towards the end of a rainbow, it will move further away.

After Noah's Flood, the Bible relates that the rainbow gained meaning as the sign of God's promise that terrestrial life would never again be destroyed by flood (Genesis 9.13-17)[26]:

I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

Another ancient portrayal of the rainbow is given in the Epic of Gilgamesh: the rainbow is the "jewelled necklace of the Great Mother Ishtar" that she lifts into the sky as a promise that she "will never forget these days of the great flood" that destroyed her children. (The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet Eleven)

Then Ishtar arrived. She lifted up the necklace of great jewels that her father, Anu, had created to please her and said, "Heavenly gods, as surely as this jewelled necklace hangs upon my neck, I will never forget these days of the great flood. Let all of the gods except Enlil come to the offering. Enlil may not come, for without reason he brought forth the flood that destroyed my people."

In the Dreamtime of Australian Aboriginal mythology, the rainbow snake is the deity governing water.

In New Age and Hindu philosophy, the seven colours of the rainbow represent the seven chakras, from the first chakra (red) to the seventh chakra (violet).


Rainbows are generally described as very colourful and peaceful. The rainbow occurs often in paintings. Frequently these have a symbolic or programmatic significance (for example, Albrecht Dürer's Melancholia I). In particular, the rainbow appears regularly in religious art (for example, Joseph Anton Koch's Noah's Thanksoffering). Romantic landscape painters such as Turner and Constable were more concerned with recording fleeting effects of light (for example, Constable's Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows). Other notable examples appear in work by Hans Memling, Caspar David Friedrich, and Peter Paul Rubens.

The Blind Girl, oil painting (1856) by John Everett Millais. The rainbow – one of the beauties of nature that the blind girl cannot experience – is used to underline the pathos of her condition.
Noah's Thanksoffering (c.1803) by Joseph Anton Koch. Noah builds an altar to the Lord after being delivered from the Flood; God sends the rainbow as a sign of his covenant (Genesis 8-9).


The rainbow inspires metaphor and simile. Virginia Woolf in To the Lighthouse highlights the transience of life and Man's mortality through Mrs Ramsey's thought,

"it was all as ephemeral as a rainbow"

Wordsworth's 1802 poem "My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold The Rainbow" begins:

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!…

The Newtonian deconstruction of the rainbow is said to have provoked John Keats to lament in his 1820 poem "Lamia":

Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine –
Unweave a rainbow

In contrast to this is Richard Dawkins; talking about his book Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder:

"My title is from Keats, who believed that Newton had destroyed all the poetry of the rainbow by reducing it to the prismatic colours. Keats could hardly have been more wrong, and my aim is to guide all who are tempted by a similar view, towards the opposite conclusion. Science is, or ought to be, the inspiration for great poetry."


  • In the song "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz, lead character Dorothy Gale fantasizes about a place over the rainbow, where the world is in peace and harmony.
  • In "Rainbow Connection", a song known for being sung by Kermit the Frog, the idea of a rainbow is seen as something to wish on, as it is popularly seen as a vision, or symbol of hope.
  • In the "End of the Rainbow" by September, the singer sings about the rainbow, and how she will be at the end of the rainbow and her ex could see her there when he reaches the end of the rainbow.
  • End of the rainbow is an award winning stage play with music (or musical drama) by Peter Quilter.
  • The group Rainbow and the song "Rainbow Demon" by Uriah Heep.


Historically, a rainbow flag was used in the German Peasants' War in the 16th century as a sign of a new era, of hope and of social change. Rainbow flags have also been used as a symbol of the Cooperative movement; as a symbol of peace, especially in Italy; to represent the Tawantin Suyu, or Inca territory, mainly in Peru and Bolivia;[27] by some Druze communities in the Middle east; and by the Jewish Autonomous Oblast.

A Rainbow flag has been used to represent the International Order of Rainbow for Girls since the early 1920's.

A rainbow flag has been in use as a symbol of gay pride and LGBT social movements since the 1970s.[28][29]

Distinct colours

Newton originally (1672) named only five primary colours: red, yellow, green, blue and violet. Only later did he introduce orange and indigo, giving seven colours by analogy to the number of notes in a musical scale[30]. The division in distinct colours is an arbitrary convention. It is related to the linguistic question whether the colour terms are mainly culturally determined, and different between people; or biologically determined, and universal for all people (the colour debate). From a physics point of view, the rainbow spans a continuous spectrum of colours—there are no "bands."

Red =     , Orange =     , Yellow =     , Green =     , Blue =     , Indigo =     , Violet =     .

Effects to be distinguished from rainbow


  1. ^ Walklet, Keith S. (2006). "Lunar Rainbows - When to View and How to Photograph a "Moonbow"". The Ansel Adams Gallery. http://www.anseladams.com/content/newsletter/lunar_rainbow.html. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  2. ^ Cowley, Les. "Sea Water Rainbow". Atmospheric Optics. http://www.atoptics.co.uk/rainbows/seabow.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  3. ^ Cowley, Les. "Zero order glow" Atmospheric Optics.
  4. ^ Billet, Felix (1868), "Mémoire sur les Dix-neuf premiers arcs-en-ciel de l'eau", Annales scientifiques de l'École Normale Supérieure 1 (5): 67–109, http://www.numdam.org/item?id=ASENS_1868_1_5__67_0, retrieved 2008-11-25 
  5. ^ K. Sassen, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69 (1979) 1083.
  6. ^ P. H. Ng, M. Y. Tse, and W. K. Lee, J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 15 (1998) 2782
  7. ^ Terje O. Nordvik. "Six Rainbows Across Norway". APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day). http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap070912.html. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  8. ^ Les Cowley. "Circumhorizontal arc". Atmospheric Optics. http://www.atoptics.co.uk/halo/cha2.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  9. ^ Science@NASA. "Rainbows on Titan". http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2005/25feb_titan2.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-25. 
  10. ^ a b c Topdemir, Hüseyin Gazi (2007), "Kamal Al-Din Al-Farisi’s Explanation of the Rainbow", Humanity & Social Sciences Journal 2 (1): 75–85 [77], http://www.idosi.org/hssj/hssj2(1)07/10.pdf, retrieved 2008-09-16 
  11. ^ a b O'Connor, J. J.; Robertson, E. F. (November 1999). "Kamal al-Din Abu'l Hasan Muhammad Al-Farisi". MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews. http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Biographies/Al-Farisi.html. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  12. ^ Topdemir, Hüseyin Gazi (2007), "Kamal Al-Din Al-Farisi’s Explanation of the Rainbow", Humanity & Social Sciences Journal 2 (1): 75–85 [83], http://www.idosi.org/hssj/hssj2(1)07/10.pdf, retrieved 2008-09-16 
  13. ^ Carl Benjamin Boyer (1954), "Robert Grosseteste on the Rainbow", Osiris 11: 247-258 [248]
  14. ^ Sivin, Nathan (1995). Science in Ancient China: Researches and Reflections. Brookfield, Vermont: VARIORUM, Ashgate Publishing. III, Page 24.
  15. ^ Dong, Paul (2000), China's Major Mysteries: Paranormal Phenomena and the Unexplained in the People's Republic, p. 72, San Francisco: China Books and Periodicals, Inc., ISBN 0835126765
  16. ^ Nader El-Bizri, "Ibn al-Haytham", in Medieval Science, Technology, and Medicine: An Encyclopedia, eds. Thomas F. Glick, Steven J. Livesey, and Faith Wallis (New York — London: Routledge, 2005), pp. 237-240.
  17. ^ Nader El-Bizri, "Optics", in Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, ed. Josef W. Meri (New York – London: Routledge, 2005), Vol. II, pp. 578-580
  18. ^ Nader El-Bizri, "Al-Farisi, Kamal al-Din," in The Biographical Encyclopaedia of Islamic Philosophy, ed. Oliver Leaman (London — New York: Thoemmes Continuum, 2006), Vol. I, pp. 131-135
  19. ^ Nader El-Bizri, "Ibn al-Haytham, al-Hasan", in The Biographical Encyclopaedia of Islamic Philosophy, ed. Oliver Leaman (London — New York: Thoemmes Continuum, 2006), Vol. I, pp. 248-255.
  20. ^ Davidson, Michael W. (August 1, 2003). "Roger Bacon (1214-1294)". Florida State University.. http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/optics/timeline/people/bacon.html. Retrieved 2006-08-10. 
  21. ^ Lindberg, David C (Summer, 1966). "Roger Bacon's Theory of the Rainbow: Progress or Regress?" (). Isis 57 (2): 235. doi:10.1086/350116. http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/resolve?doi=10.1086/350116&erFrom=-5850190228810736974Guest. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  22. ^ Boyer, Carl B. (1952). "Descartes and the Radius of the Rainbow". Isis 43 (2): 95–98. doi:10.1086/349399. 
  23. ^ Gedzelman, Stanley David (1989). "Did Kepler's Supplement to Witelo Inspire Descartes' Theory of the Rainbow?". Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 70 (7): 750. doi:10.1175/1520-0477(1989)070<0750:DKSTWI>2.0.CO;2. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1989BAMS...70..750G. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  24. ^ O'Connor, J. J.; Robertson, E. F. (January 2000). "Sir Isaac Newton". University of St. Andrews. http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/Biographies/Newton.html. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  25. ^ Nussenzveig, H. Moyses, "The Theory of the Rainbow," Scientific American Vol.236, No.4 (1977), 116.
  26. ^ Holy Bible:(King James Version.) (2004).Intellectual Reserve,inc.
  27. ^ http://flagspot.net/flags/xi.html
  28. ^ The Rainbow Flag. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/user/scotts/bulgarians/rainbow-flag.html. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  29. ^ Gilbert Baker (18 October 2007). "Pride-Flyin' Flag: Rainbow-flag founder marks 30-years anniversary". Metro Weekly. http://metroweekly.com/feature/?ak=3031. Retrieved 2008-03-13. 
  30. ^ http://www1.umn.edu/ships/updates/newton1.htm


  • Greenler, Robert (1980). Rainbows, Halos, and Glories. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0195218337. 
  • Lee, Raymond L. and Alastair B. Fraser (2001). The Rainbow Bridge: Rainbows in Art, Myth and Science. New York: Pennsylvania State University Press and SPIE Press. ISBN 0-271-01977-8. 
  • Lynch, David K.; Livingston, William (2001). Color and Light in Nature (2nd edition ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-77504-3. 
  • Minnaert, Marcel G. J. (1993). Light and Color in the Outdoors. Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-97935-2. 
  • Minnaert, Marcel G. J. (1973). The Nature of Light and Color in the Open Air. Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-20196-1. 
  • Naylor, John (2002). Out of the Blue: A 24-Hour Skywatcher's Guide. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-80925-8. 
  • Boyer, Carl B. (1987). The Rainbow, From Myth to Mathematics. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-08457-2. 
  • Graham, Lanier F. (editor) The Rainbow Book Berkeley, California: Shambhala Publications and The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (1976) (Large format handbook for the Summer 1976 exhibition The Rainbow Art Show which took place primarily at the De Young Museum but also at other museums. The book is divided into seven sections, each coloured a different colour of the rainbow.)
  • De Rico, Ul (1978). The Rainbow Goblins. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27759-1. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Rainbows article)

From Wikiquote

Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side?. . . Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me. ~ Paul Williams

Rainbows — Phenomena of Light and Mind...

Look, look, look to the rainbow
Follow it over the hill and stream... ~ Yip Harburg
Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true. ~ Yip Harburg
  • God put the rainbow in the clouds, not just in the sky... It is wise to realize we already have rainbows in our clouds, or we wouldn't be here. If the rainbow is in the clouds, then in the worst of time, there is the possibility of seeing hope... We can say "I can be a rainbow in the cloud for someone yet to be." That may be our calling.
  • Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.
  • Caustics are the brightest places in an optical field. They are the singularities of geometrical optics. The most familiar caustic is the rainbow, a grossly distorted image of the Sun in the form of a giant arc in the skyspace of directions, formed by the angular focusing of sunlight that has been twice refracted and once reflected in raindrops. ~ Rene Descartes (1637)
  • And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.
  • We may run, walk, stumble, drive, or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way.
  • Look, look, look to the rainbow
    Follow it over the hill and stream

    Look, look, look to the rainbow
    Follow the fellow who follows the dream.
  • Some day I'll wish upon a star
    And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
    Where troubles melt like lemondrops
    Away above the chimney tops,
    That's where you'll find me.
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    Bluebirds fly.
    Birds fly over the rainbow,
    Why then, oh why can't I?
  • The idea of immortality, that like a sea has ebbed and flowed in the human heart, with its countless waves of hope and fear, beating against the shores and rocks of time and fate, was not born of any book, nor of any creed, nor of any religion. It was born of human affection, and it will continue to ebb and flow beneath the mists and clouds of doubt and darkness as long as love kisses the lips of death. It is the rainbow — Hope shining upon the tears of grief.
  • Look at the bow in the cloud, in the very rain itself. That is a sign that the sun, though you cannot see it, is shining still — that up above beyond the cloud is still sunlight and warmth and cloudless blue sky.
  • She was sick with nausea so deep that she perished as she sat. And then, in the blowing clouds, she saw a band of faint iridescence colouring in faint colours a portion of the hill. And forgetting, startled, she looked for the hovering colour and saw a rainbow forming itself. In one place it gleamed fiercely, and, her heart anguished with hope, she sought the shadow of iris where the bow should be. Steadily the colour gathered, mysteriously, from nowhere, it took presence upon itself, there was a faint, vast rainbow. The arc bended and strengthened itself till it arched indomitable, making great architecture of light and colour and the space of heaven, its pedestals luminous in the corruption of new houses on the lowhill, its arch the top of heaven. And the rainbow stood on the earth. She knew that the sordid people who crept hard-scaled and separate on the face of the world's corruption were living still, that the rainbow was arched in their blood and would quiver to life in their spirit, that they would cast off their horny covering of disintegration, that new, clean, naked bodies would issue to a new germination, to a new growth, rising to the light and the wind and the clean rain of heaven. She saw in the rainbow the earth's new architecture, the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heaven.
  • If you mean that the proximity of one color should give beauty to another that terminates near it, observe the rays of the sun in the composition of the rainbow, the colors of which are generated by the falling rain, when each drop in its descent takes every color of the bow.
  • Walk on a rainbow trail; walk on a trail of song, and all about you will be beauty. There is a way out of every dark mist, over a rainbow trail.
  • The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta be willing to put up with the rain.
  • The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
  • We of many cultures, languages and races are become one nation. We are the Rainbow People of God.
  • We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that a savage has, because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we gained by prying into that matter.
  • Each band or level, being a particular manifestation of the spectrum, is what it is only by virtue of the other bands. The color blue is no less beautiful because it exists along side the other colors of a rainbow, and "blueness" itself depends upon the existence of the other colors, for if there were no color but blue, we would never be able to see it.
  • In the face of the sun are great thunderbolts hurled,
    And the storm-clouds have shut out its light;
    But a Rainbow of Promise now shines on the world,
    And the universe thrills at the sight.
  • Why are there so many songs about rainbows
    And what's on the other side?

    Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
    And rainbows have nothing to hide.
    So we've been told and some choose to believe it
    I know they're wrong, wait and see.
    Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
    The lovers, the dreamers and me.
  • We can't lose with God on our side, We'll find strength in each tear we cry, From now on it will be you and I,
    And our ribbon in the sky, Ribbon in the sky, A ribbon in the sky for our love . . .
    There's a ribbon in the sky for our love.
  • There's a rainbow round my shoulder
    And a sky of blue above,
    Oh the sun shines bright, the world's all right
    `Cause I'm in love.
    • Song There's a Rainbow Round My Shoulder, by Dave Dreyer.
And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.
Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up rainbow in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to The Rainbow article)

From Wikisource

The Rainbow
by Thomas Campbell

    Triumphal arch, that fills the sky
      When storms prepare to part,
    I ask not proud Philosophy
      To teach me what thou art.

    Still seem, as to my childhood's sight,
      A midway station given,
    For happy spirits to alight,
      Betwixt the earth and heaven.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

RAINBOW, formerly known as the iris, the coloured rings seen in the heavens when the light from the sun or moon shines on falling rain; on a smaller scale they may be observed when sunshine falls on the spray of a waterfall or fountain. The bows assume the form of concentric circular arcs, having their common centre on the line joining the eye of the observer to the sun. Generally only one bow is clearly seen; this is known as the primary rainbow; it has an angular radius of about 410, and exhibits a fine display of the colours of the spectrum, being red on the outside and violet on the inside. Sometimes an outer bow, the secondary rainbow, is observed; this is much fainter than the primary bow, and it exhibits the same play of colours, with the important distinction that the order is reversed, the red being inside and the violet outside. Its angular radius is about J7°. It is also to be noticed that the space between the two bows is considerably darker than the rest of the sky. In addition to these prominent features, there are sometimes to be seen a number of coloured bands, situated at or near the summits of the bows, close to the inner edge of the primary and the outer edge of the secondary bow; these are known as the spurious, supernumerary or complementary rainbows. The formation of the rainbow in the heavens after or during a shower must have attracted the attention of man in remote antiquity. The earliest references are to be found in the various accounts of the Deluge. In the Biblical narrative (Gen. ix. 12-17) the bow is introduced as a sign of the covenant between God and man, a figure without a parallel in the other accounts. Among the Greeks and Romans various speculations as to the cause of the how were indulged in; Aristotle, in his Meteors, erroneously ascribes it to the reflection of the sun's rays by the rain; Seneca adopted the same view. The introduction of the idea that the phenomenon was caused by refraction is to be assigned to Vitellio. The same conception was utilized by Theodoric of Vriberg, a Dominican, who wrote at some time between 1304 and 1311 a tract entitled De radialibus impressionibus, in which he showed how the primary bow is formed by two refractions and one internal reflection; i.e. the light enters the drop and is refracted; the refracted ray is then reflected at the opposite surface of the drop, and leaves the drop at the same side at which it enters, being again refracted. It is difficult to determine the influence which the writings of Theodoric had on his successors; his works were apparently unknown until they were discovered by G. B. Venturi at Basel, partly in the city library and partly in the library of the Dominican. monastery. A full account, together with other early contributions to the science of light, is given in Venturi's Commentari sopra la storia de la Teoria del Ottica (Bologna, 1814). John Fleischer (sometimes incorrectly named Fletcher), of Breslau, propounded the same view in a pamphlet, De iridibus doctrina Aristotelis et Vitellonis (1574) the same explanation was given by Franciscus Maurolycus in his Photismi de lumine et umbra (1575) The most valuable of all the earlier contributions to the scientific explanation of rainbows is undoubtedly a treatise by Marco Antonio de Dominis (1566-1624), archbishop of Spalatro. This work, De radiis visas et lucis in vitris perspectivis et iride, published at Venice in 1611 by J. Bartolus, although written some twenty years previously, contains a chapter entitled "Vera iridis tota generatis explicatur," in which it is shown how the primary bow is formed by two refractions and one reflection, and the secondary bow by two refractions and two reflections. Descartes strengthened these views, both by experiments and geometrical investigations, in his Meteors (Leiden, 1637). He employed the law of refraction (discovered by W. Snellius) to calculate the radii of the bows, and his theoretical angles were in agreement with those observed. His methods, however, were not free from tentative assumptions, and were considerably improved by Edmund Halley (Phil. Trans., 1700, 714). Descartes, however, could advance no satisfactory explanation of the chromatic displays; this was effected by Sir Isaac Newton, who, having explained how white light is composed of rays possessing all degrees of refrangibility, was enabled to demonstrate that the order of the colours was in perfect accord with the requirements of theory (see Newton's Opticks, book i. part 2, prop. 9).

The geometrical theory, which formed the basis of the investigations of Descartes and Newton, afforded no explanation of the supernumerary bows, and about a century elapsed before an explanation was forthcoming. This was given by Thomas Young, who, in the Bakerian lecture delivered before the Royal Society on the 24th of November 1803, applied his principle of the interference of light to this phenomenon. His not wholly satisfactory explanation was mathematically examined in 1835 by Richard Potter (Camb. Phil. Trans., 1838, 6, 141), who, while improving the theory, left a more complete solution to be made in 1838 by Sir George Biddell Airy (Camb. Phil. Trans., 1838, 6, 379).

The geometrical theory first requires a consideration of the path of a ray of light falling upon a transparent sphere. Of the total amount of light falling on such a sphere, part is reflected or scattered at the incident surface, so rendering the drop visible, while a part will enter the drop. Confining our attention to a ray entering in a principal plane, we will determine its deviation, i.e. the angle between its directions of incidence and emergence, after one, two, three or more internal reflections. Let EA be a ray incident at an angle i (fig. I); let AD be the refracted ray, and r the angle of refraction. Then the deviation experienced by the ray at A is i - r. If the ray suffers one internal reflection at D, then it is readily seen that, if DB be the path of the reflected ray, the angle ADB equals 2r, i.e. the deviation of the ray at D is 7r-2r. At B, where the ray leaves the drop, the deviation is the same as at A, viz. i - r. The total deviation of the ray is consequently given by D =2(i - r) +7r - 2r.

Similarly it may be shown that each internal reflection introduces a supplementary deviation of 7r - 2r; hence, if the ray be reflected n times, the total deviation will be D =2(i - r) +n (7r - 2r) .

The deviation is thus seen to vary with the angle of incidence; and by considering a set of parallel rays passing through the same principal plane of the sphere and incident at all angles, it can be readily shown that more rays will pass in the neighbourhood of the position of minimum deviation than in any other position (see Refraction). The drop will consequently be more intensely illuminated when viewed along these directions of minimum deviation, and since it is these rays with which we are primarily concerned, we shall proceed to the determination of these directions.

Since the angles of incidence and refraction are connected by the relation sin i=µ sin r (Snell's Law), µ being the index of refraction of the medium, then the problem may be stated as follows: to determine the value of the angle i which makes D = 2 (i - r) +n (7r - 2r) a maximum or minimum, in which i and r are connected by the relation sin i sin r, µ being a constant. By applying the method of the differential calculus, we obtain cos i= { (µ 2 - 1)/(n24-2n)} as the required value; it may be readily shown either geometrically or analytically that this is a minimum. For the angle i to be real, cos i must be a fraction, that is n 2 +2n>µ 2 - I, or (n+I)2>µ2. Since the value of µ for water is about, it follows that n must be at least unity for a rainbow to be formed; there is obviously no theoretical limit to the value of n, and hence rainbows of higher orders are possible.





7r -

42° I

7r -


° 22


27r -


° 2

27r -


° 48




° 4



° 08

- 4zr-31

° 07



° 07

So far we have only considered rays of homogeneous light, and it remains to investigate how lights of varying refrangibilities will be transmitted. It can be shown. by the methods of the differential calculus or geometrically, that the deviation increases with the refractive index, the angle of incidence remaining constant. Taking the refractive index of water for the red rays as 0;, and for the violet rays as 1 r, we can calculate the following values for the minimum deviations corresponding to certain assigned values of n. To this point we have only considered rays passing through a principal section of the drop; in nature, however, the rays impinge at every point of the surface facing the sun. It may be readily deduced that the directions of minimum deviation for a pencil of parallel rays lie on the surface of cones, the semi-vertical angles of which are equal to the values given in the above table. Thus, rays suffering one internal reflection will all lie within a cone of about 42°; in this direction the illumination will be most intense; within the cone the illumination will be fainter, while, without it, no light will be transmitted to the eye.

Fig. 2 represents sections of the drop and the cones containing the minimum deviation rays after I, 2, 3 and 4 reflections; the order of the colours is shown by the letters R (red) and V (violet). It is apparent, therefore, that all drops transmitting intense light after one internal reflection to the eye will lie on the surfaces of cones having the eye for their common vertex, the line joining the eye to the sun for their axis, and their semi-vertical angles equal to about 41° for the violet rays and 43° for the red rays. The observer will, therefore, see a coloured band, about 2° in width, and coloured violet inside and red outside. Within the band, the illumination FIG. 2 will be faint; outside the band there will be perceptible darkening until the second bow comes into view. Similarly, drops transmitting rays after two internal reflections will be situated on covertical and coaxial cones, of which the semi-vertical angles are 51° for the red rays and 54° for the violet. Outside the cone of 54° there will be faint illumination; within it, no secondary rays will be transmitted to the eye. We thus see that the order of colours in the secondary bow is the reverse of that in the primary; the secondary is half as broad again (3°), and is much fainter, owing to the longer path of the ray in the drop, and the increased dispersion.

Similarly, the third, fourth and higher orders of bows may be investigated. The third and fourth bows are situated between the observer and the sun, and hence, to be viewed, the observer must face the sun. But the illumination of the bow is so weakened by the repeated reflections, and the light of the sun is generally so bright, that these bows are rarely, if ever, observed except in artificial rainbows. The same remarks apply to the fifth bow, which differs from the third and fourth in being situated in the same part of the sky as the primary and secondary bows, being just above the secondary.

The most conspicuous colour band of the principal bows is the red; the other colours shading off into one another, generally with considerable blurring. This is due to the superposition of a great number. of spectra, for the sun has an appreciable apparent diameter, and each point on its surface gives rise to an individual spectrum. This overlapping may become so pronounced as to produce a rainbow in which colour is practically absent; this is particularly so when a thin cloud intervenes between the sun and the rain, which has the effect of increasing the apparent diameter of the sun to as much as 2° or 3°. This phenomenon is known as the "white rainbow" or "Ulloa's Ring or Circle," after Antonio de Ulloa.

We have now to consider the so-called spurious bows which are sometimes seen at the inner edge of the primary and at the outer edge of the secondary bow. The geometrical theory can afford no explanation of these coloured bands, and it has been shown that the complete phenomenon of the rainbow is to be sought for in the conceptions of the wave theory of light. This was first suggested by Thomas Young, who showed that the rays producing the bows consisted of two systems, which, although emerging in parallel directions, traversed different paths in the drop. Destructive interference between these superposed rays will therefore occur, and, instead of a continuous maximum illumination in the direction of minimum deviation, we should expect to find alternations of brightness and darkness. The later investigations of Richard Potter and especially of Sir George Biddell Airy have proved the correctness of Young's idea. The mathematical discussion of Airy showed that the primary rainbow is not situated directly on the line of minimum deviation, but at a slightly greater value; this means that the true angular radius of the bow is a little less than that derived from the geometrical theory. In the same way, he showed that the secondary bow has a greater radius than that previously assigned to it. The spurious bows he showed to consist of a series of dark and bright bands, whose distances from the principal bows vary with the diameters of the raindrops. The smaller the drops, the greater the distance; hence it is that the spurious bows are generally only observed near the summits of the bows, where the drops are smaller than at any lower altitude. In Airy's investigation, and in the extensions by Boitel, J. Larmor, E. Mascart and L. Lorentz, the source of light was regarded as a point. In nature, however, this is not realized, for the sun has an appreciable diameter. Calculations taking this into account have been made by J. Pernter (Neues fiber den Regenbogen, Vienna, 1888) and by K. Aichi and T. Tanakadate (Jour. College of Science, Tokyo, 1906, vol. xxi. art. 3).

Experimental confirmation of Airy's theoretical results was afforded in 1842 by William Hallows Miller (Camb. Phil. Trans. vii. 277). A horizontal pencil of sunlight was admitted by a vertical slit, and then allowed to fall on a column of water supplied by a jet of about th of an inch in diameter. Primary, secondary and spurious bows were formed, and their radii measured; a comparison of these observations exhibited agreement with Airy's analytical values. Pulfrich (Wied. Ann., 1888, 33, 194) obtained similar results by using cylindrical glass rods in place of the column of water.

In accordance with a general consequence of reflection and refraction, it is readily seen that the light of the rainbow is partially polarized, a fact first observed in 1811 by Jean Baptiste Biot (see Polarization).

Missing image


Lunar rainbows. The moon can produce rainbows in the same manner as the sun. The colours are much fainter, and according to Aristotle, who claims to be the first observer of this phenomenon, the lunar bows are only seen when the moon is full.

Marine rainbow is the name given to the chromatic displays formed by the sun's rays falling on the spray drawn up by the wind playing on the surface of an agitated sea.

Intersecting rainbows are sometimes observed. They are formed by parallel rays of light emanating from two sources, as, for example, the sun and its image in a sheet of water, which is situated between the observer and the sun. In this case the second bow is much fainter, and has its centre as much above the horizon as that of the direct system is below it.


. - For the history of the theory of the rainbow, see G. B. Venturi, Commentari sopra la stories de la teoria del Ottica (Bologna, 1814); F. Rosenberger, Geschichte der Physik (1882-90). The geometrical and physical theory is treated in T. Preston's Theory of Light; E. Mascart's Traite d'optique (1899-1903); and most completely by J. Pernter in various contributions to scientific journals and in his Meteorologische Optik (1905-9).

<< Rain

Rainolds >>


Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to William Joseph Rainbow article)

From Wikispecies

William Joseph Rainbow (1856-1919).

External links

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

caused by the reflection and refraction of the rays of the sun shining on falling rain. It was appointed as a witness of the divine faithfulness (Gen 9:12-17). It existed indeed before, but it was then constituted as a sign of the covenant. Others, however (as Delitzsch, Commentary on Pentateuch), think that it "appeared then for the first time in the vault and clouds of heaven." It is argued by those holding this opinion that the atmosphere was differently constituted before the Flood. It is referred to three other times in Scripture (Ezek 1:27, 28; Rev 4:1-3; 10:1).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

This article needs to be merged with RAINBOW (Jewish Encyclopedia).

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|A rainbow arches over the gardens at the Canada pavilion at Epcot in Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, United States.]]

A rainbow is an arc of colour in the sky that you can see when the sun shines through falling rain. The pattern of colors starts with red on the outside and changes through orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo to violet on the inside.

A rainbow is actually round. On the ground, the bottom part is hidden, but in the sky, like from the view of a flying airplane, it can be seen as a round shape. Rainbows are popular symbols that can mean peace and harmony. Rainbows are also recognizable symbols of gay pride.


File:Regenbogen Zü
Rainbow in a thunderstorm that is moving away (at lake Zürich)

The rainbow effect can be seen when:

  • There are water drops in the air; and
  • The sun is giving light at the back of the observer at a low distance up or angle.

The rainbow displays with the deepest effect in our minds take place when:

  • Half of the sky is still dark with draining clouds; and
  • The observer is at a place with clear sky above.

Another common place to see the rainbow effect is near waterfalls. Parts of rainbows can be seen some of the time:

  • at the edges of clouds lit from the back; or
  • as upright bands in far away rain that does or does not fall on the earth.

An unnatural rainbow effect can also be made putting drops of water into the air on a sunny day.

The seven colors of the rainbow

Note: The spectrum colors can only be approximated on a computer screen but the colors shown below are a close approximation of the spectrum colors of the rainbow.

  • Red (web color) (Hex: #FF0000) (RGB: 255, 0, 0)
  • Orange (color wheel Orange) (Hex: #FF7F00) (RGB: 255, 127, 0)
  • Yellow (web color) (Hex: #FFFF00) (RGB: 255, 255, 0)
  • Green (X11) (Electric Green) (HTML/CSS “Lime”) (Color wheel green) (Hex: #00FF00) (RGB: 0, 255, 0)
  • Blue (web color) (Hex: #0000FF) (RGB: 0, 0, 255)
  • Indigo (Electric Indigo) (Hex: #6600FF) (RGB: 111, 0, 255)
  • Violet (Electric Violet) (Hex: #8B00FF) (RGB: 143, 0, 255)
Error creating thumbnail: sh: convert: command not found
Wikimedia Commons has images, video, and/or sound related to:


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address