WeatherWise Kids: Why are rainbows always the same colors in the same pattern?

Allison asked the question: Why are rainbows always the same colors in the same pattern?

 
Thanks for the question Allison.

 
Rainbows are colors that we can see because of the way light is refracted, dispersed, and reflected through drops of rain.

 
Refraction is when the wave of light is bent in the rain drop.  Dispersion is when the light is broken up into all of its separate colors. This happens because the raindrop is a prism.  Reflection is when light bounces around in the drops of rain. All of these things happening together make up the beautiful rainbow we see in the sky.

 
Since all drops of water do these things in the same way, a rainbow is always the same pattern.

 
A secondary, or double rainbow, has the colors in the opposite order because of the same reasons. It is caused by a double reflection of sunlight in the drops.

 
When looking for rainbows, always look towards the rain, with your back to the sun.

 

You can find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MeteorologistJessicaConley or on Twitter: @MeteoroloJess or email me: jconley@wsav.com

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