A rainbow is not just a marvel of atmospheric physics but also a symbol of hope, promise, and positivity in various cultures across the globe.
Beliefs about rainbow:
In numerous cultures, rainbows are associated with positive beliefs, often seen as messengers of good luck and prosperity. Let's delve into some of these beliefs:
Chinese culture: In traditional Chinese beliefs, a rainbow is a positive sign indicating that the hard times are about to end and a period of good fortune will follow. Especially, a double rainbow is seen as a symbol of transformation and serendipity.
Hindu mythology: The rainbow is associated with the celestial bow of Indra, the king of gods, bridging a connection between heaven and earth. Seeing a rainbow is considered a blessing from the divine.
Japanese folklore: Rainbows are portrayed as bridges used by heavenly beings for their descent to Earth, signifying good tidings.
Picture taken by writer at the Grampians - Victoria, Australia - June 23'
Science Behind Rainbows:
Despite the many beliefs and myths surrounding rainbows, the formation of a rainbow is a fascinating process explained by physics. When sunlight interacts with raindrops in the atmosphere, it refracts or bends, breaking into its constituent colours. These colours then reflect off the inside surface of the raindrop and refract again as they exit, creating the beautiful arc of colours that we recognize as a rainbow.
The Many Faces of Rainbows
Though we typically picture a rainbow as a semicircular arc of seven colours, rainbows can actually take many forms:
Double Rainbows: Sometimes, you might spot a secondary, fainter rainbow above the primary one. This happens when sunlight is reflected twice within the raindrops before it exits.
Supernumerary Rainbows: These are fainter rainbows that appear on the inner side of the main rainbow, characterized by pastel colours. This happens due to the complex interaction of light waves inside the raindrop.
Picture taken by writer at The Nobbies - Melbourne, Victoria. June 23'
Picture taken by writer over the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia. June 23'
Twinned Rainbows: Quite rare to spot, twinned rainbows appear as two separate arcs sprouting from the same base. This phenomenon occurs when there is a variation in the size of the raindrops within a rain shower.
Full-Circle Rainbows: While we usually see rainbows as arcs from the ground, they are actually full circles. However, the full circle can only be seen under specific conditions, like from a high altitude or against a wall of rain when viewed from the air.
So, the next time you see a rainbow, remember that you're not only witnessing a wonderful phenomenon of light interaction but also a symbol that has brought hope, wonder, and positivity to countless generations. The next time you spot a rainbow make sure to savour the enchanting spectacle that is a rainbow.