Athens Low Rainbow

March 17, 2010


Photographer: Chris Kotsiopoulos
Summary Author: Chris Kotsiopoulos; Jim Foster

We often see rainbows gracing the sky but those that graze the horizon often escape our detection. This low-slung beauty was photographed from the Athens Olympic Stadium on January 2, 2010 at 12:57 p.m. -- the Sun was approximately 35 degrees above the horizon. In order for a rainbow to be seen the Sun must be no higher than 42 degrees above the horizon. This is because, as determined from the antisolar point, the radius of a primary rainbow is 42 degrees, thus the Sun cannot be higher than this for a rainbow to appear. During the summer season the Sun is too high in the sky at mid day, except in Polar Regions, for rainbows to be observed. However, near the winter solstice, a midday rainbow may indeed come into view in the mid-latitudes. But don’t expect to see a grand arch. At this time of day they’re lying low. Nonetheless, there still may be that proverbial pot of gold at the end of the bow, particularly today.

Photo details: Fuji FinePix E550; Shutter Speed 1/420; Aperture Value 5.0; ISO 80.