Mauna Kea Summit and Rainbow Fragment

March 25, 2024

Iotw2341 (1)

Photographer: Theofanis Matopoulos,  International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/T
Summary Author: Theofanis Matopoulos  

From the vantage point of Gemini North, one-half of the International Gemini Observatory atop the volcanic summit of Mauna Kea, a rainbow fragment can be seen at left. One of the five volcanoes constituting the Big Island of Hawaii, Mauna Kea rises to an elevation of 13,786 ft (4,205 m). At this elevation, tropical clouds infrequently cover the summit, but at lower altitudes, they bring with them moisture, particularly on the windward flanks.

Rainbows form at the antisolar point of the viewer when raindrops refract and reflect sunlight. The drops act as prisms, slowing and then separating the almost white sunlight into its component colors. The result is a spectacular spectrum of light — a rainbow. The bow fragment shown above is beautifully complimented by the red soil of the volcano and deep blue of the sky.        

Photo taken on March 31, 2022, as part of the recent NOIRLab 2022 Photo Expedition to all the NOIRLab sites.

Mauna Kea Summit, Big Island, Hawaii Coordinates: 19.820679, -155.468024

Related Links:
Rainbow Fragment and Anticrepuscular Rays
Theofanis’ Website