This picture actually shows just a few air bubbles frozen in a sheet of ice. But when watching it from a certain angle against the antisolar point, I discovered these strange colours. These can be expressed as a kind of “inverted rainbow”, as the circumstances under which it formed are exactly reversed to those of a normal rainbow. In a rainbow, the spherical object consists of water, but in this “bubble bow” the spherical object consists of air.
But there is a crucial difference: The ordinary main rainbow is based upon a double refraction of light and one inner reflection. But in case of this “bubble bow” the light is refracted four times: When it enters the ice, it gets refracted for the first time. The second time is when it enters the bubble. Then it is reflected once (or several times?) inside the bubble before it gets refracted a third time when leaving the bubble and entering the ice again. Finally, it gets refracted a fourth time when it leaves the ice. The “bubble bow” formed by this procedure has the same sequence of colours as a normal rainbow. But I do not know if it can ever be seen as a whole.
Photograph taken in Barsinghausen-Egestorf (Germany) on March 5, 2010, with a Canon EOS 1000d camera. More pictures are here.
Author: Reinhard Nitze, Barsinghausen, Germany