One View, Four Rainbows

June 05, 2020

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Photographer: Jim Grant 
Summary Authors: Jim Grant, Jim Foster

I had no idea when I walked along the beach this April morning that I’d be confronted by these stunning rainbows. Both the primary rainbow and the secondary bow are reflected in the wet sand. The Sun is opposite of where the camera is pointing.

After sunlight has been reflected inside the raindrops (producing the primary and secondary bows) it’s then reflected by the wet sand. This reflection inverts what we see in the sky. Whereas the primary rainbow’s center is below the horizon (antisolar point), the inverted bow’s center is actually above the horizon at the same altitude of the Sun (antihelic point). Note that reflected rainbows are entirely different than reflection rainbows. Photo taken on Ocean Beach pier in San Diego, California, on April 9, 2020.