Subhorizon rainbow

This deep-subhorizon part of a rainbow was photographed by Günther Können on 2 Oct 2005 on a flight from Amsterdam to Madrid. Although cloudbows are frequently seen from an airliner, rainbow sightings are relatively rare. To Günther”s experience, the best chances are when the altitude of the plane is not too high. It was the second time that he saw such a distinct one, the first time being 23 yr ago.


Posted on May 14, 2011, in observations, rainbow and fogbow and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Claudia Hinz said…

    Really a very seldom picture! Years ago I””ve seen also a small fragment from the lower part of rainbow circle from mountain. But not so clearly like in your case.

  2. Peter Kraemer said…

    On July 19, 1995, I also saw and photographed a part of a subhorizontal rainbow. It appeared in a rainshower over the Caribbean, off the coast of Nicaragua. But in that case the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,100 meters, according to the display in the passenger cabin. A photograph of this rainbow apppears on the meteoros website.

  3. Claudia Hinz said…

    Here is the pic from Peter Krämer…

  4. Günther Können said…

    The combination of Kraemers picture with mine is instructive. Both show an almost staight rainbow segment, about equally deep under the horizon, with a 60 degree inclination with respect to the horizon, but the color sequence is reversed. This can only be achived with the subhorizon rainbow. As the solar elevation in my case was about 10 deg, Kraemer””s must have been about 50 deg.

  5. Peter Kraemer said…

    After having taken a more closer look at Günther””s picture, I noticed a very faint part of a rainbow to the right of the bright bow. It looks like Günther has also photographed a secondary bow, as the sequence of colours of the faint bow is reversed.

    In Günther””s pic the sun must have been on the left side, in my one it was on the right. This is the reason for the inversion of colours. The part of the rainbow photographed seems to be straight, because it is only a small segment of the bow. Also short parts of rainbows above the horizon look straight. And if you look very closely, you can notice a slight curvature in both pictures.

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