Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What caused the Quadruple Rainbow?

  1. Apr 21, 2015 #1


    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    I've done this synthetically, in the past.
    I've never seen a natural set before.
    I wonder what caused the second set. A lake?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 21, 2015 #2
    The photo makes it look like a double rainbow with a reflection rainbow. Wikipedia has a nice article on rainbows. Many years ago I saw what I now realize was a supernumerary rainbow in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I had never seen one before and have never seen one since. But I still remember how awesome it was.

  4. Apr 22, 2015 #3
    Yep - looks to be a double rainbow, with a reflected one, taken near sunrise/set. IIRC I photographed a simpler one a decade ago; single and a reflected single that came off the ocean.

    Edit: Found the slide film, popped on the monitor and photographed; it was a double and a fainter reflected double.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
  5. Apr 22, 2015 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    After a bit of research, it had to have been the Long Island Sound that reflected the sunlight.


    The yellow pin is where Amanda was standing, and she was looking in the direction of the arrow.

    Glen Cove LIRR station on Long Island, NY: 40.865189°N 73.616976°W
    photo capture: 4/21/2015 6:30 am
  6. Apr 22, 2015 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I live in Colorado near the Rockies and see supernumerary rainbows often, typically two to four at a time. I never realized that they were rare!
  7. Apr 23, 2015 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    I went back and re-read the entry on "Supernumerary rainbows". That is really interesting.

    I did not know that.

    Here's an interesting simulation I just found, showing the effect with the required droplet size:
    (The slider they mention, is the inverted skinny grey triangle to the right of the image)

    Supernumeraries & Drop Size
  8. May 31, 2015 #7


    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Today, my last Facebook friend from work, posted the following, having taken the picture about 2 hours ago:


    Like her, it really had me puzzled.
    So I went through the wiki entry on Rainbows, and found the following:

    Not a rainbow? pfft!
    If it's not a rainbow, then what's it doing in the "Rainbow" section?
    Answer me that, wiki......
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: What caused the Quadruple Rainbow?
  1. What causes this? (Replies: 1)

  2. What causes lightning? (Replies: 4)