Chasing Rainbows on a Sunday Afternoon

It was unsettled weather this past Sunday.

Rain showers…sun…rain showers…sun…etc.


Got a bit wet.   Saw a small rainbow.


Managed to catch the occasional bass.   Little scrappers, they are.

Sun came out again.  Then more unsettled weather.

Then I heard a rushing sound: “Shhhhhhhhhhhh….!!!”

Which I knew was a wall of rain coming slowly my way across the lake.

Cursing the weather, I reluctantly ducked under a tree and waited out the downpour.

Shortly after which, was one of the best rainbows in recent memory.

WOW.  A double !!!

Here’s a close-up.

Notice  how the rainbow is in FRONT of the trees on the far show.   I’m actually seeing where the rainbow BEGINS.

I went to Google Earth later, and estimated the rainbow was about  500 meters away from where I was standing.

Of course, if I had paddled 500 meters to try to catch it, I’d never have succeeded.  I’d only just end up seeing a different rainbow, further away.  (Sorry, folks.  No pot of gold.)

This is because there isn’t actually any “unique” single rainbow in the sky.    Rainbows are an optical phenomenon that have to do with light reflecting and refracting inside of raindrops.  Every person sees a slightly different rainbow.

I wont’ get into all the scientific details but a good explanation is found here.  Another good site is found here.

Double rainbows occur when light is reflected inside the raindrops not once, but twice.   The order of colors in the secondary rainbow is always reversed from the first one, like a mirror image.

In both rainbows, the reds are towards the inside, the violets on the outside.  It’s always like this.   That’s just how the laws of physics work.

The area between the two rainbows is darker than the rest of the sky.  This is called “Alexander’s Band“.   Again, I won’t go into all the details (I’m a bit rusty on undergraduate physics!).

Suffice to say, all these phenomena have to do with the physical properties of water and how light bends while travelling through it.

I didn’ t overanalzye this while I was on the lake, though.  I just sat back and enjoyed nature’s show.

The rainbow spanned the entire lake, right in front of me, from one end to the other.

In my 48 years on this planet, I’d never seen such a thing.

And that was well-worth getting wet over.

Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

5 Comments on “Chasing Rainbows on a Sunday Afternoon”

  1. Mike Goad Says:

    Nice fish… nice rainbow.

    Saw a really good rainbow last year in Grand Junction, Colorado. It had been raining to the east of us and I saw the rainbow through the trees in the campground. It looked like a good one, so I headed toward the campground entrance.

  2. I can’t wait to see the rainbow as your next painting.

  3. carmen zayas Says:

    Friar – what an incredible experience…thanks for sharing the cool pics and the links to the explanations – I always learn a lot when I read your blogs. Glad you were able to add that experience to your memory banks…

  4. Friar Says:

    Yep. I consider myself lucky to be able to pop into the park like this any weekend I chose. (Or weeknight).

    Wow…that’s a good one. Worthy of a magazine.

    @Army Wife
    Mmmm….I dunno. Rainbows like this would be VERY tricky to capture on watercolors. Extremely unforgiving. I think that would be exceeding the limits of my skill. I would have to get a lot better first.

    The post made me read and review some of my old physics background. So I learn when I write these posts too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: