Stunning Double Rainbow

Rainbows are pretty commonplace – we’ve all seen them. A double rainbow, though – they’re special! I’ve only happened to see one, and when I did, the physicist in me immediately stopped and took this picture:

Double rainbow at sunset in blue and purple sky
Double rainbow photographed at sunset in Upstate New York.

I took this image at sunset in Upstate New York on October 7th, 2013. It has all the features of this beautiful phenomenon:

  • Vivid primary bow
  • Fainter secondary bow
  • Color reversal of the secondary bow
  • Brighter sky inside (below) the primary bow
  • Darker sky outside (above) the primary bow

The best explanation on double rainbows comes from Walter Lewin in this lecture video. If you love physics and can handle some math, jump to 24:43. Otherwise, jump to 28:05.

Have you seen a double rainbow? Or other optical phenomena in the sky? Let me know in the comments below!

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