The Rainbow Connection?

Happy Tuesday!  In honor of All Hallows Eve this coming weekend, I had thought about writing about the scary, spooky, and creepy.  However, we’ve had a lot of that this year, so today – let’s talk about Rainbows!

However, if you would like to read about spooky or scary science, check out these articles in Science Magazine and the Smithsonian Magazine.

But back to today’s blog.  Why rainbows your might ask?  Well….

  1. Because they are scientifically interesting.  A few cool factoids:
  • A rainbow, as you know, is a multi-colored arc that forms in the sky, and is a phenomenon caused by refraction, light reflection, and dispersion of water droplets.
  • A rainbow occurs when it is raining in one part of the sky and sunny in another.
  • Isaac Newton explained how a rainbow occurs:
    • A rainbow arch is a 42-degree angle starting from the direction opposite from the sun.
  • Funnily enough, a person standing next to you will see the rainbow slightly differently than you, because they are standing in a slightly different spot. They see different raindrops and angles of reflection.
  • And along the same lines – when the sun is lower, the rainbow will be higher in the sky.
  • On the ground, we only see a semi-circular rainbow but from an airplane, you can see a rainbow in a complete circle.
  • People usually see more rainbows in tropical locations and by waterfalls (because of the dispersion and density of water droplets.


  1. They’re pretty and culturally significant.

In numerous mythologies, such as those of the ancient Greeks, Norsemen and Japanese, rainbows were depicted as bridges between the earth and the heavens.

And in numerous examples of art and literature, rainbows symbolize hope or are something to wish on ala Kermit the Frog’s Rainbow connection.


What do rainbows mean to you?


Stay safe my friends!


  1. Jean+De+Muzio

    Carol, thanks for the blog. What happens when you see 2 rainbows at the same time in the sky? I saw one in a parking lot in Germantown, MD last year.

    • Hi Jean – A rainbow comes about when light hits raindrops. The light bends (refracts) when it hits the drop, reflects off the back of the drop, and then bends again as it leaves the water droplet. The bending is what allows you to see the different colors or wavelengths of light instead of just white light (which is all colors at once). Double rainbows occur when the light is reflected twice within the raindrop, thus causing different angles and 2 instances of refraction. What’s really cool is that while the first rainbow has the colors in the usual order (ROYGBIV), in the secondary rainbow (which is lighter and higher in the sky), the colors are reversed.

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