Pic of the Day: May 28, 2014

Behold the majestic rainbow... but only in the morning and evening!     view archive

Did you know that rainbows, caused by rain, only occur when the sun is low in the sky? And when you do see them, the rainbow is always in the directly opposite direction as the sun!

Rainbows are an optical illusion created by light travelling through water droplets. When the light hits the droplet, the water acts like a little lens, bending or 'refracting' the light, similar to how a prism creates colors. This bent light is then reflected off the back of the water droplet toward the onlooker, which gives a rainbow its illuminated appearance. When the sunlight hits billions of these little droplet lenses at the same time, the water droplets in the air act like a giant lens made of little lenses, and creates an arch shaped illuminated spectrum.

In a single rainbow the colors go from violet, inside the rainbow, to blue, green, yellow, orange and finally to red at the outside. Under certain circumstances you may see a double rainbow, where a secondary display of color appears over the first rainbow. The colors of the secondary "double" bow are reversed, starting with red on the inside and ending with violet on the outside.

Because of their rarity, seeing a rainbow has become associated with good luck, and more optimistically that if you make a wish while viewing a rainbow, your desires will come true!

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