April Shower Rainbow

April 23, 2002


Provided by: Martin Ruzek, USRA
Summary authors & editors: Martin Ruzek

April showers bring April rainbows. This midafternoon beauty was born from a swiftly passing cold front unleashing torrential rain followed by brilliantly clear cool air which let the sunlight through to do its magic. The photomosaic above does scant justice to the colorful arches formed when sunlight enters raindrops from behind the observer and is reflected back at an angle. As light enters and leaves a drop of water it is also refracted, separating the colors of the rainbow. Also visible on the right is a secondary rainbow with colors reversed, the result of sunlight making two internal reflections within the raindrops. Physics aside, there's nothing quite like the splash of color from a rainbow following a storm, a reminder that spring really is on its way.

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