Double Rainbow over Freital, Germany

November 04, 2021


Photographer: Heiko Ulbricht

Summary Author: Heiko Ulbricht; Cadan Cummings

Weather around the town of Freital in eastern Germany this past May felt like a continuation of the typical April spring weather- rain, sun, and brief thunderstorms. However, on the evening of May 16, 2021, a beautiful sight could be seen on the horizon after a rather large weather cell passed over from Freiberg, Germany. The weather radar showed a large cloud-free zone behind the storm with the ideal conditions for a rainbow. Preparing the camera in peace and quiet, one could take their time positioning and waiting for an almost certain rainbow to appear overhead. Luckily, the weather radar and predictions were correct and the region was treated to a beautiful primary and secondary rainbow

In order for a double rainbow to be visible, specific atmospheric conditions must be present. Primarily, larger water droplets must be suspended in the air in order for a double reflection to occur. Additionally, the rainbow must be exactly opposite in the sky to the solar disk from the viewer’s perspective, also called the antisolar point. Adding to the spectacle of a double rainbow is a region of Alexander’s Dark Band between the primary and secondary rainbows. This comparably darker area is caused by the water droplets between the two rainbows scattering light away from your eyes. 

Photo Details: Canon EOS 6D + 2.8/12 mm Fisheye (F4), 1/640s, ISO 200, 18:12 UT

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