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Valley rainbows

When working on a mountain top, one very soon breaks the habit of looking for rainbows only in the sky. Here rainbows can appear at all sun elevations, even when one really does not reckon with them. Last year I could watch rainbows at sun elevations of more than 60° on Mt. Wendelstein. The most beautiful ones appeared when several rain showers passed on May 31, 2010. The maximum sun elevation during this observation was 63.6°.

Photos: 123

Later the same day (sun elevation now was “only” 41.8°) i had the rare opportunity to see a part of a rainbow on the left side of the mountain, while at the same time there was a fogbow on the right side, which soon was replaced by a glory. Unfortunately, it was impossible to look from the northeastern part of the mountain at the same time, so I could not see the transition from rainbow to fogbow.

On this day, rainbows appeared 6 times, the last one was a double reddish rainbow over the Inn valley.

Author: Claudia Hinz, Brannenburg, Germany


On May 13, 2008, I was flying to Tunisia. Just before the plane landed in Monastir, I looked out of the window and saw a faint onset of a red rainbow. About one minute later, the rain became heavier, and the bow became more intensive, even below the horizon. Unfortunately, the plane landed about two minutes later, and I could not see if the red rainbow was visible from the ground.

Author: Michael Großmann, Kämpfelbach, Germany

Wendelstein Shadow and Rainbow

After the passage of a front on August 12, 2006, the sky over Bavaria (Germany) began to clear up and turned into a sunny mood about 30 minutes before sunset. This image by Christoph Ries was taken looking toward the antisolar point as Mt. Wendelstein’s (1,838 m or 6,030 ft) triangular shadow emerged over the Wildalpjoch Mountains (background). Both ends of this amazing rainbow were visible. By clicking on the image, you may be able to detect the faint left portion of the bow. Note that because the image was taken at altitude, the bow’s nearly circular composition is observed. From flat terrain, we see rainbows as semi-circles, but when not confined by a horizon, it’s easy to see that they””re actually rain-circles. The image was stitched from three individual images using “autostitch” and “The Gimp.”

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.