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Rainbow curvature

  1. Apr 2, 2017 #1
    Jus a brief musing. I understand that light refracts showing the different colours when a rainbow is formed but have never known why they are curved rather than straight. Probably a simple explanation but not known to me. Can anyone explain please
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 2, 2017 #2


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    The rainbow occurs at a particular angle from the light source (usually the sun). This makes it a circle.
  4. Apr 2, 2017 #3
    Yeah, it's just a huge circle, you just can't see the bottom half. If you see a rainbow from a plane, you can actually see the whole circle.
  5. Apr 2, 2017 #4


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  6. Apr 3, 2017 #5


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    I believe it is much better to think in terms of a cone than in terms of a circle. Final effect is the same though.
  7. Apr 4, 2017 #6
    If you want see a really beautiful effect look at the shadow of your head in mist
  8. Apr 4, 2017 #7


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  9. Apr 4, 2017 #8
  10. Apr 4, 2017 #9


    Staff: Mentor

    No it's fog. The effect has even a special name and Wikipedia entry here.
    (Same phenomenon as in your link.)
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