Last evening (11 June 2011) thunderstorms approached my home town Schiffdorf near Bremerhaven in Northern Germany. I went to a field road by car to take some photos of the storm clouds. Just after I had arrived (about 18:00 UTC), heavy rain started which lasted for nearly 20 minutes. To my disappointment, the rain covered the gust front and most of the interesting features of the storm. So I waited and hoped that the sun would come out soon and produce some nice rainbows. When it did I realized that the dark clouds covered the sky to the right of the Sun – just the situation Michael Großmann had had when he took the the first image of a 3rd order rainbow only four weeks ago. I decided to try this out as well. Instead of one image I took sequences of five to stack them and, thus, increase the signal-to-noise ratio. I hoped this would increase my chances to detect the 3rd order bow. I took the images from my car through the open window to protect my camera (Canon 40D) from the rain. Visually, I did not see a 3rd order rainbow. However, in my back, the 1st and 2nd order bow developed nicely.
Back home I converted the raw images to 16-bit-Tiff and stacked them in Photoshop. Adjusting saturation already showed the 3rd order bow in the image sequences taken between 18:17 and 18:22 UTC (first image). Applying unsharp masking revealed something unexpected in one of the stacked images (from 18:19 UTC): There seemed to be another rainbow close to the 3rd order bow, but, with reversed colors (second image). I checked Les Cowley’s website and realized that my image likely showed the 4th order rainbow!
After some more sophisticated processing including denoising (Neat Image), unsharp masking and increasing saturation, the 3rd and 4th order rainbows both were clearly visible. Finally, I created a composite using masks to retain the natural look of the foreground while still showing the 3rd and 4th order rainbows (third image).
Author: Michael Theusner, Bremerhaven, Germany
On May 15, 2011, a rain area moved from north to south. When it started to rain at my position, I immediately rushed to my observing site which is reachable within 2 minutes for me.
Once there, I saw beautiful specimen of the primary and secondary rainbow. During my observation, the rain intensified, and now I knew hat I had to look for!
On the left side of the sun there was a relatively dark cloud bank providing ideal conditions for a possible sighting of the 3rd order rainbow.
In fact, I had the idea of seeing a very faint arc at the expected position of about 40° away from the sun. It is really exaggerated to say that I saw it, but there seemed to be something.
I went into the shadow of a tree in order not to be blinded by the sun.
Now I did not take any care to protect the camera from the rain, I just had a little box with me to put the camera into. The arc could not be seen for more than 30 seconds, but I´m sure there was something at that position.
As under those lighting conditions a correct exposure is hard to get, I took my photographs in RAW mode. All the “little helpers” of the camera had to be set off.
To my disappointment, I did not find anything at the expected position when examining my pictures on the PC screen. But when putting an unsharp mask over the pictures, I saw it immediately. A bow! You can see that the outer part of the bow is slightly red and the inner part is light green.
Here is an animation showing the original image and three different settings: Unsharp mask, intensified colours and inverted.
If you need more information about the measurements of this tertiary rainbow, take a look at this pdf-file written by Dr.Alexander Haußmann. Thank you very much for your calculation!
Author: Michael Großmann, Kämpfelbach, Germany
A rainbow is a product of millions of falling raindrops interacting with sunlight. A single reflection form the primary bow, a double reflection forms the secondary bow. However, under ideal conditions there can be many more orders of reflection. As shown above, five, six and even ten internal reflections can be observed. Moreover, it’s theoretically possible to detect twenty internal reflections, but the problem is to produce a perfectly spherical water droplet. The drops I used for this experiment were formed artificially. The light source is a 5 mW green laser pointer. Note that the bright spot at left center is the laser illuminated water drop.
The third and fourth order reflections aren’t shown here because they, along with the seventh and eighth order reflections, are positioned on the other side of the picture in the direction of the light source. The primary and secondary bows will be viewed in the direction you’re facing opposite the sun The fifth, sixth, ninth, and tenth order reflections are also in this direction. However, the third and fourth (as well as the seventh and eighth) order reflections can’t be seen because they’re behind you.
Under exceptional atmospheric conditions it may be feasible to see the third and fourth order bows if you’re facing the sun, but they’re quite faint. A third order bow, for instance, is one quarter as bright as a primary bow. A fifth order rainbow is only about one tenth as intense as the primary bow.
If you need more information about the experiments with high order bows, you can read this pdf.
Nikon D40X, focal length 18mm, 100 ISO, 2,5 sec. at f/6,3
Author: Michael Großmann, Kämpfelbach, Germany
I have discovered a spectral reflection phenomenon inside a transparent plexiglass-sphere. The phenomenon, of which I am almost sure it is NOT the equivalent of the Primary or Secondary Rainbow, is in fact the equivalent of the Tertiary Rainbow, visible as a bright illuminating spectral colored ring all along the limb of the sphere. To see this ring, one should look “from behind” the sphere, toward the sun, with the sun “in front” of it (appearing exactly “in the centre” of the sphere).
The photo show the sphere with appearance of the red component of the spectrum. The distance of the observing eye (or camera’s lens) to the sphere is VERY important, because the focal point of the ring is not a point, it’s a spectral colored line (red at the far end, blue at the near end).
As far as I know, no one has ever observed or photographed the ring-like appearance of, what I call, the Tertiary Glass-sphere Bow (which has a focal point or “line”, behind the globe!).
Author: Danny Caes, Ghent-Belgium