How the formation of rainbow takes place .

Rainbows are one of the first spectacles of nature that each one of us have experienced as a child.
The first scientific breakthrough in explanation of this phenomenon came about 400 years ago when
Sir Issac Newton demonstrated that white light or the sunlight can be broken into component
colours using a prism. Rene Descartes1 more specifically addressed this issue as a problem in optics
and gave a comprehensive explanation using a single drop model . The fascination lies in two
characterstics on display in a rainbow. The first being the colours and the second being the bow like
appearance. These are demonstration of the phenomenon of dispersion , refraction and internal
reflection of light .

The prerequisite conditions of a rainbow obervation are presence of mist , or drizzle condition
along with presence of sun and cloudless sky. In addition to these , observer's position and direction
of observation is also as much important . The presence of droplets of water suspeded in air act as
an array of tiny prisms that separate out the various component colours of the incident sunlight.
These tiny prism unlike the ones we see in physics lab , also act a reflectors before dispersing the
light. They reflect the light back to observers eyes and this requires the observer to stand with sun
at his back. The direction ,owing to limit on angle of deviation , must also be approximately 40
degree above the grond. Intrestingly the bow appearnce is because we cannot see beyond the ground
or in other words it is only approximately half the image that we see. The full circle can be seen
from airplane . As an interesting aside , no two observer actually see the same rainbow since the
position of the rainbow depends slightly on the position of the observer.

The light is incident on a droplet from above .It undergoes refraction twice and reflection once
before dispersing downwards to the observers eye.The dispersion is caused because different
components of white light namely violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow ,orange and red have different

In conclusion . This ocurrs because of double reflection leading to inversion of color. References 1. Multiple reflection can in principle lead to similar triple and multiple rainbows but owin to mutiple reflection they get dimmer progressively and hence are rarely visible. the phenomenon of rainbow llustrates the beautiful play of geometrical optics in nature. The angle is smallest for red and largest for violet. The observation of the spectrum in shape of a bow with red on the top and violet at the bottom is due to the concentration of dispersed light at about 40 degrees by the suspended droplets which form a circular arc .The same phenomenon . This is roughly at 53 degrees from the ground level. the rainbow is actually a three dimensional figure and not two dimensional. Interstingly . can be observed using garden sprinklers or hose as well illustrating . red at the bottom and violet at the top. The differnce between them from an observation point at ground is roughly 2 degrees.1637.e. Descarte. The outside of the cone being red and inside violet .index of refraction in water and hence deviate at different angles. The position of the sun in the sky decides the fraction of the complete circular rainbow spectrum that is visible to a ground observer .Rene. It must be noted that the light undergoes numerous refraction and reflections at all angle but they are either out of view of the observer or their combined effect averages out. Occassionaly . the well known universality of laws of physics. This rainbow has inverted colours and is ess intense. a parallel band of rainbow is seen above the normal rainbow . given that the similar condition are fullfilled. The higher up is the sun smaller the arc of the circle that could be seen from the ground and vice versa . in spite of the appearnce . one would see inversion of colurs . Discours de la Methode Pour Bien Conduire Sa Raison et Chercher la . This rainbow is called secondary rainbow . So if it is was possible to observe complete rainbow from ground as is in the case of airplane . It is a cone like figure with the observers eye itself being at the level of apex of cone.i.

<http://scienceblogs.Verite dans les Science (2nd appendix) La Dioptrique> .