Double Rainbows

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It is thought that larger water droplets that have been flattened by the surrounding air are needed to form double rainbows.

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If the light bounces three or four times, tertiary or quaternary rainbows form, but they are usually too faint for the naked eye to see. Create your own rainbow with our home science experiment.

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Did most pirates wear eye patches? Red is the outermost color of this arc, and violet is always the innermost color.

On occasion, you may have seen two rainbows at once. The lower rainbow is the primary rainbow and the higher, fainter, colored arc is the secondary rainbow.

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The color sequence of the secondary rainbow is opposite to the primary; red is on the inside of the arc and violet on the outside. When sunlight passes through a triangular glass prism, it separates into the colors of the rainbow. This separation happens because different colors bend, or refract, by different amounts. The shortest blue and violet wavelengths refract the most; red light refracts the least. The separation of colors is referred to as dispersion. Not only prisms but also water drops and ice crystals can cause dispersion.

Double rainbows Wednesday evening - KWWL

To form a rainbow you need large drops of water, the sun at your back and at the correct angle. Raindrops act as prisms, bending and reflecting the sunlight that falls on them, just like a crystal hung in a sunny window. As light enters water, the path it takes changes.

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How much the direction changes is a function of the color of the light. You probably noticed that a smooth water surface can act like a mirror and reflect light. If the light beam entering the raindrop reaches the back of the drop at a certain angle, it undergoes a reflection and heads back toward the sun.