Rainbow and King Penguins
December 24, 2006
As part of a sightseeing tour from the Antarctic Peninsula to South Georgia Island (during austral summer in 2000), our tour ship navigated the same route as Ernest Shackleton had in 1916. James Cook gave the name "Cape Disappointment" to the southern tip of the main island of South Georgia when he realized that this was not continental Antarctica. After finally landing on South Georgia, we were entertained by colonies of King Penguins, Macaroni Penguins and Wondering Albatrosses.
A colorful rainbow helped to compensate for the starkness of the island and the black and white dress of the penguins. It's likely that the droplets that created this rainbow were rather small since the bow's intensity is fairly low. With smaller drop sizes, there's greater wave interference than is the case for larger drops, so the colors (different wavelengths) tend to overlap. Rainbows can form almost anywhere, as long as the Sun is not more than about 42 degrees above the horizon and clouds are composed of water droplets and not ice crystals. In regards to viewing rainbows at polar latitudes, the latter is usually more of a concern than the former. Though the penguins shown above may be indifferent to whether or not their surroundings are dark or light, another type of upright, 2-legged creature is perhaps wishing for a bit of snow to brighten up its holiday landscape.