Full Circle Rainbow

Full Circle Rainbow


In very rare circumstances, it is possible to see a full 360-degree rainbow from an airplane.


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Rainbows are one of nature’s most beautiful sights, an optical and meteorological phenomenon that appears in the sky courtesy of the reflection and refraction of light in water droplets. There are also perhaps more variations of a rainbow that some may realize.

Primary rainbows show red on the outer part of the arc and violet on the inner side, whilst in double rainbows, a second arc is visible with the orders of the colors reversed. There are also supernumerary, twinned, tertiary rainbows that provide subtle differences.

However, it is the 360-degree or full circle that provides the most compelling view, with limited pictures available given its troublesome method of extraction. 360-degree rainbows are rarely documented, primarily because they can only be seen from above, as from an aircraft or a skyscraper.

The height of the sun when the rainbow appears determines how much of the circle can be seen, with the sun at its lowest allowing for more of the circle to come into view.

Half the circle of the rainbow lies beneath the horizon, where it is not raining. However, in spite of this the viewing of a 360-degree rainbow image as a picture, or better yet in person, can show that the rainbow starts to flatten out to the left near the bottom of the view. This means the view is now more than just the top of what is actually a full circle of reflection.


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