As I was rolling the trash cans to the curb on Sunday evening (March 3rd 2013), I noticed water droplets in the driveway. Yet, the sun was shining brightly. I looked up as I rolled, and what I saw made me first gasp, then run inside and grab my phone. The entire arc of a rainbow stood before me in the east. Dark clouds, presumably the source for those driveway droplets, provided a drama-filled backdrop for the spectacle.
A rainbow isn’t really an object or a thing; it’s more of a phenomenon. A rainbow happens as a result of light being reflected in water droplets in the atmosphere. The primary rainbow has red on the outside of the arc and progresses through Roy G. Biv until it reaches violet on the inside of the arc.
When light reflects on the water droplets twice, the result is a double rainbow. The order of the colors is reversed on the second rainbow. There’s a very faint 2nd rainbow in this photo. If you look closely near where the lamp post on the right intersects with the roof of a house, you can just about make out a faint tracing of my rainbow’s twin.
A rainbow will appear in the sky directly opposite of where the sun is. The front of my house faces east, and I’m standing in the front, in the driveway, taking this photo. Therefore, we know that the sun is in the western sky, and that it must be later in the day.
You can walk toward a rainbow all you want, but because it is not an object, you will never get “there”. This is why the leprechauns hide their pots of gold at the ends of rainbows; it’s a sure bet they won’t have to share 😉
(taken in Panorama mode with my iPhone 4S)