Curious rainbow seen on cruise

Discussion in 'Nature' started by jdrose, Dec 24, 2006.

  1. I captured this rainbow on a cruise ship just outside of Belize last week. I
    have never seen one like this before. It is not a artifact of my polarizer
    because I could see it with my own eye as well.

    What optical conditions are required for such a multi-banded rainbow to appear?

  2. I don't have a specific answer, however the Atmospheric Optic website below has a lot regarding sky phenomena and may be worthwhile to check there.
  3. I just checked the website I gave above and it has excellent examples that match your photo. According to the site, the extra bands are called supernumaries, created by small, almost same sized raindrops. Check the website further for a more technical explanation.

    All nature photographers should find this site informative.
  4. For a rainbow to occur such that you can see it, the light must be behind you and it will refract into the visible spectrum as it passes thru mists or spray of water droplets in front of you. The break up of the light is the same as the break up you get when passing light through a Prism.

    The photo you show looks like a cloud in process of unloading some water in the form of rain or mist.. but the rain is too fine and evaporates before it makes ground fall.
  5. Actually, the light doesn't have to be behind you, it just depends on the water in the atmosphere refracting light. I've seen some interesting rainbows, from one in Cozumel that made a complete ring around the sun to a similar one I saw just a few weeks ago that made two arches in some moderate clouds, also facing the sunset. It's the same rainbow you see when you're watering the flowers with a spray nozzle on your hose, and it's light refracting through water droplets in the atmosphere... perhaps the website linked above will explain it better, but you don't have to be in Belize to see a thing like this, just in the right place at the right time. You may also notice this phenomenon around the moon at night, though the colors aren't as obvious... folklore says it's going to rain soon, and they're not far off...
  6. That rainbow is not lens flare, by the way, though you can see the lens flare present... the reason we were taking pictures of the full sun was to capture the circular rainbow!
  7. The circle around the sun as shown in Grayson's photo is NOT a rainbow. It is an ice halo. Again, check the Atomspheric Optics website.
  8. That's not a rainbow. It looks like a 22ᄚ halo formed by cirrostratus clouds. You can expect rain within 24 hours.
  9. Argh. You science people. Rainbow is a bit of a colloquial description of pretty colors in an arch in the sky. These happen behind you when you're facing the sun. However, the basic optical principles are equivalent, and manifested in differnt forms and directions given the optical properties of the refracting material and the location of the light source. It's a freakin rainbow at heart. Get over it already.
  10. Call it what you like, but I think it's beautiful regardless. I see these sun circle/bows and moon circle/bows ( a couple of times a year and am fascinated to read everyones contribution. At the moment i am reading about light refraction and reflection etc and saw this same phenomena two days ago here in Australia. I've also grown up thinking that it means rain soon. Sometimes it rains and sometimes not..but oh well, they are beautiful and thats what counts in nature.
  11. Grayson,

    Just saw one of those complete 22-degree sun halos like your example on Dec. 23rd. Quite the phenomena; yours is a nice strong image!

    The Atmospheric Optics site is really amazing; I'd love to see even half of the phenomena that they document there.

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