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How the Formation of Rainbows Takes Place

How the Formation of Rainbows Takes Place


A rainbow signifies an atmospheric occurrence instigated by replication, bending, and spreading of light in water precipitations, resulting in a range of light looking in the sky that takes the form of a multicolored arc. The sun-orchestrated bows always appear in the sky segment directly opposite the sun. Formation of rainbow involves scientific analysis of the elements and factors contributing to the phenomenon. The rainbow offer a spectrum of seven colors dispersed according to their wavelengths.

Role of Refraction of Light in Rainbow Formation

Refraction of light characterizes the bending of light at the crossing point when it travels from one intermediate to another at a slant (Lock 37). However, a ray that voyages up and down to the interface when the angle of occurrence is zero stays in a straight line since there is no change in direction. When the beam of light travels from air to water, it is twisted towards the standard. Water is optically heavier than air. Optical density signifies the spreading mass and it is not always related to physical density. Spread velocities of light vary in diverse media. Light frequently travels with a velocity of 3.0x 10^8 m/s in a void and travels at a slightly lower speed in vacuum. When the light ray hits the water droplet, the rate is significantly reduced. When the light travels through the air to the water droplet, it is refracted towards the normal. Snell revealed that the ratio of the sine of the angle of incidence to the sine of the angle of alteration was constant. This constant was for a given pair of media giving rise to the Snell’s law (Lock 20). The law emphasized the fact that the incident, the refracted, and the ordinary ray at the region of occurrence altogether lie in similar flat (Lock 26).

Effect of Total Internal Reflection on Rainbow Formation

Rainbows rely on a great deal of total internal reflections since they form when white light from the sun is refracted, dispersed, and totally within reflected by raindrops. Total internal reflection occurs when the angle of incidence is greater than the critical angle for the ray of light travel from a denser to a less dense medium. View at the back of the raindrop does not undergo total internal reflection, and some light emerges from the back. However, a rainbow between the viewer and the sun is not created by the light exiting the back of the raindrop. The effect arises because bands emanated from the back of the raindrop lack maximum of concentration like other rainbows, making the colors amalgam together rather than forming a rainbow.

Reflection and Dispersion of Light in Rainbow Formation

During the procedure when rays meet a raindrop, part of the light is redirected while the other part enters it (Lock 40). The part that enters is altered at the surface of the raindrop. During the process when this light hits the back of the drop, some of it is redirected off the rear. As the light redirected from within touches the surface once more, some of it becomes internally reflected, and some is refracted as it exits the drop. The dynamics effect is that part of the incoming light is reflected back over the range from zero degrees to not more than forty-two degrees where the most intense light is found. The Supreme angle of forty-two is the turning point where light hitting the outermost ring of the drop is returned at less than forty-two as the case with the light hitting the drop near to its center. A light round band exists that is returned right around forty-two. Overlooking interloping effects, the rainbow brightness tends towards infinity at this angle if the sun were a laser producing parallel one-color light. However, the luminance does not go to eternity as the sun’s brightness is limited, and its rays are not all parallel. Spreading of light depends on the wavelength of the refracted light, thus giving the colors. Dispersion of light signifies the process by which light is split into several colors as it passes through media. Due to its shorter surge span, blue light is refracted at a bigger angle than red light. However, due to the reflection of light rays from the back of the droplet, the blue light emerges from the droplet at a lesser angle to the original instance white light beam than red light. The angle makes the blue visible on the primary rainbow inner arc and red on the outside, resulting in the different colors, and lessened illumination. The stated angle is independent of the drop size but dependent on its refractive index. The refractive index represents the ratio where the sine of the angle of incidence to the sine of the refraction angle is constant. The refractive index of seawater is higher than rainwater, causing the inconsistency of rainbow radius (Lock 47).

Visibility of Rainbows

A rainbow is not stationary on specific position but relatively it depends on the particular observer’s lookout as the sun lights the water precipitations. Although all raindrops refract and reflect the sunlight correspondingly, the only view from some raindrops touches the observer’s eye. The succeeding light reaching the observer institutes the rainbow for that viewer. An axial balance around the alignment exists via the observer’s head and parallel to the sun’s rays, involving the whole structure extending from the observer’s head, sun rays, and the water drops. The rainbow is curved as all the rainbow’s set having the factual viewpoint amid the viewer, the drop, and the sun get situated on a cone, aiming at the sun with the observer at the front (Stockman 74). The cone base forms a circle at an angle between forty and forty-two degrees to the line of the observer’s head and their shadow. However, 50% or more of the circle lies below the horizon unless the viewer is amply distant overhead to witness. An airplane offers a good view and an observer with the right vantage point can see the complete circle in a jet or falls spray.

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Full Circle Rainbow Development

Rainbows may be complete circles, although the regular onlooker sees only an arc formed by illumined droplets above the ground and fixated on a line from the sun to the observer’s eye. Ideally, every rainbow is a circle, although only its upper partial is noticeable from the ground. The rainbow’s center is opposite to the sun’s location in the sky. Therefore, more of the circle comes to view as the sun approaches the horizon, meaning that the largest circle section is seen during sunset or sunrise. Watching the rainbow’s lower half requires the existence of water droplets below the observer’s horizon with adequate sunlight able to reach them (Stockman 74). The circle can be seen from a high perspective, as there is no obstruction of the sunlight. The bow can have the secondary or superfluous bow as well like the incomplete rainbow.

Supernumerary Rainbow Development

The supernumerary rainbow referred to as a stacker rainbow representing a rare spectacle that comprises several indistinct rainbows on the inner side of the primary rainbow. In addition, it is rarely still outside the secondary rainbow. Superfluous rainbows are slightly detached and they possess pastel color bands that fail to fit the usual pattern. Alternating faint colors are formed by interference between rays of light following slightly different paths with slightly varying lengths within the raindrops. Rays in phase support each other through positive interloping, creating the bright band while those out of phase cancel each other through damaging interference creating a gap (Lock 52). Interference rays of different colors vary due to their different refractive angles with each bright band differentiated in color creating a small rainbow. Superfluous rainbows become apparent with identical and small raindrops.

Reflected Rainbow and Reflection Rainbow Formation

The dissimilarity arises when a rainbow appears above a water body, and two corresponding mirror bends may be seen beneath and beyond the distance originating from different light trails. A reflected rainbow is usually noticeable and it may appear on the horizon where the raindrops first deflect the sunlight and then reflected from the water body before getting to the viewer (Stockman 77). A reflection rainbow ensues where sunshine redirects off a build of rainwater getting at the raindrops and appears above the horizon but rarely visible.

Monochrome Rainbow Formation

The rainbow results from shorter wavelengths like blue and green being dispersed and detached from the sky. The effect may take place during sun-up or sundown where a shower is experienced. The rain may hasten further scattering causing colorless or red rainbow.

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Primary Rainbow Formation

A red curve forms on the outer fragment and violet on the inner side of a primary rainbow. The rainbow forms because of light refraction when inflowing a water droplet and subsequent reflection in the inside on the back of the droplet and reflected again as it exits (Lock 56). The bow results when light enters the upper part of the drops and exits only after one internal reflection, making it brighter than the ancillary bow where sunlight is reflected double within raindrops (Klassen 46).

Secondary Rainbow Formation

Secondary rainbows result from dual reflection of sunlight inside the raindrops and they are centered on the sun (Klassen 46). The colors constitute to about 127 degrees violet to 130 degrees red in breadth. The colors are evident on the same side of the sky as the primary rainbow, about 10 degrees above it at seeming angles of 50-53 degrees, as it is more than 90 degrees. The double rainbow is linked with a second bend discernible outside the primary arc, with reversed color order, and a red on the arc’s inner side and violet on the outside. The bow is paler because more light leaks from two reflections compared to one and as the spectral itself becomes stretched over a greater region in the sky. Each rainbow reflects white light inside its colored bands but the concentration upsurges with the secondary and dropping with the primary. Alexander’s band represents the dim sky area amid the elementary and secondary bows (Stockman 80). The section between the two bows appears relatively dark as it lacks entirely the once and twice reflected rays. Physical research shows the survival of a third or tertiary rainbow seen on rare occasions with a blurry furthest arc. The arc signified an undulating and effervescent form.

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Twinned Rainbow Formation

The rarely paired rainbow appears as two rainbow bends that split from a solitary base. The colors in the second bow look similarly like the primary rainbow unlike backing as in the double rainbow. The rainbow may at times observed in a blend with a secondary rainbow. Twinned rainbow is caused by the amalgamation of different sizes of water drops falling from the sky (Stockman 87). The raindrops flatten as they fall due to air opposition with flattening more pronounced in larger water drops. Slightly different rainbows that may combine to form a twinned rainbow ensue when two rain bursts with different raindrops join. Non-spherical raindrops may produce a paired rained rainbow. The likelihood arises with the surface tension forces keeping small raindrops globular and large drops being flattened by the opposition, or further still, they might fluctuate between compressed and extended spheroids (Klassen 48).

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In conclusion, rainbow formation follows a distinct pattern depending on the type of rainbow formed. Different rainbow formations have different formation methods that involve refraction, reflection, and dispersion of light in the sky in the presence of raindrops. The viewer’s observation angle has also been stated as a factor in determining the shape of a rainbow, thus identifying the bow type. In addition, the research shows that the laws of light play an important role in the formation of bows.