Reflection Rainbow Over France

August 15, 2003

Rbow0803

Provided by: Laurent Laveder, Optics of the Atmosphere Gallery
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster; Laurent Laveder

This picture was taken on May 13, 2003 near the town of Quimper in western France. The primary rainbow and outer or secondary bow look normal, however, note the very faint vertical bow, which seems to be attached to the secondary rainbow (near the top of the photo). This is a portion of a reflection rainbow. They're easy to miss, but if circumstances are just right, they may be seen near water. The reflection rainbow arises from sunlight being reflected from a body of water. For instance, if sunlight hits a lake, the reflection of the Sun can cause a rainbow as well as light directly from the Sun. From the viewers point of view, there are essentially two antisolar points, each having a rainbow. The fainter bow results from the reflected Sun. Since the antisolar points are in different locations, the bows are offset and not parallel to each other. See the Earth Science Picture of the Day from September 3, 2002.

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