How to turn two rainbows into four

An exciting sight, the secret of which they could reveal.

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — In April 2015, a severe thunderstorm passed in New York, painting the sky with rainbow colors – many eyewitnesses immediately rushed to photograph this beauty. At the same time, one of Twitter users, Amanda Curtis, posted on her page a picture with four separate multi-colored arcs at once. The image, scattered across the Web, became “viral”: the so-called quadruple rainbow is a rare natural phenomenon.

Recall that a rainbow appears as a result of reflection and refraction of sunlight in many small droplets of water suspended in the air: white light is divided into a series of colors from outer red to inner purple. You can catch four rainbows at once from one angle of view only under certain conditions: in particular, the sky should be quite dark, and there should be several gaps in the clouds at once. Moreover, each next rainbow looks paler than the previous one. This is exactly the picture that can be seen in the picture taken in 2011 in Germany . And in the photo from New York, the arcs are quite bright, and many wondered if this was a photoshop.

Doubt was also caused by the fact that thousands of people were witnesses of an unusual phenomenon in the largest US city – and only one person presented a photo of four rainbows. Experts, not doubting the authenticity of the photograph, explain: this is only a double rainbow, newly reflected from the surface of the water behind the photographer. A double rainbow is a beautiful, but not so rare occurrence. It occurs when there are a lot of drops in the air, and the light has time to refract again. And with a successful combination of circumstances, it can be “turned” into a quadruple.

Paul Neumann, a meteorologist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), says that the surface of a pond, like a mirror, reflects the sun and creates a second, additional light source. It is located as many degrees below the horizon as the sun itself is higher. However, a real rainbow is formed using direct sunlight, so its arches cannot be at an angle or intersect. And this is exactly what we see in the photograph of Amanda Curtis, the American professor of meteorology Raymond Lee draws attention. In evidence, he cites the fact that a woman took a picture near Hampstead Bay – in ideal conditions for a “reflected rainbow”.

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