Thursday, January 17, 2008

An explanation for the multiple rainbows

Spaceweather.com have posted an explanation for the bizarre multiple rainbows I saw last Saturday afternoon. According to Atmospheric Optics expert Les Cowley the explanation is:

"The multiple arcs are called supernumerary rainbows. They were so named because early natural philosophers could not explain them and considered that they should not be there. They are a diffraction pattern produced when rays passing through small raindrops overlap and interfere. If we are lucky we see one or two, these widely spaced multiple ones are exceptional and tell us that the raindrops were very small and, more unusually, all of the same size."

Who knew?

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