Multiple rainbows

Jan. 12, 2008
Riding home on the bus this afternoon, I noticed the rainbow off to the East. The sun was low in the west and was not far from setting, so the clouds were beginning to take on a golden hue. The rainbow looked like it was repeated numerous times and fading off in the distance. I got off at the next stop and pulled out my new pocket-sized digicam and snapped a couple of pics. I checked out Les Cowley’s Atmopsheric optics page and it seems that the closest thing I could find were supernumerary bows, but these seemed to be more spaced out than the examples on his website. So is that what these are? I have included two pictures (1 2) and two contrast enhanced b&w versions of the pictures to better show the details (1 2).
Picture details: Canon SD1000, ISO 200, 1/160 sec, f4.9

Author: Darryl Luscombe, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Posted on May 26, 2011, in observations, rainbow and fogbow and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Timo Kuhmonen said…

    Thanks for sharing this… In the last summer I noticed my best rainbow supernumeraries very near to my home, during daily shopping trip. Unfortunately I did not have camera with me.

  2. I don’t think these are supernumerary bows, which tend to be close into the inside of the primary, and alternating fringes of green and magenta light. My guess would be that they are multiple bows caused by reflected sunlight (maybe from the clouds) incident on the raindrops from slightly different angles to that coming directly from the sun. Multiple bows due to reflection are relatively common, but I have never seen a set that are apparently pretty much concentric before – amazing photo! 😀

  3. Dear Zephyris, thanks for your opinion, but I’m sure that the picture show “only” supernumery bows…

    Best wishes

  4. Darryl Luscombe

    The picture does show only supernumery bows… I wish it was an endless series of multiple bows, but that wasn’t the case this time…

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