Today's Image

Red rainbow over Bellingham, Washington

Double rainbow over what looks like an apartment complex.
Lawrence Wong caught this photo on May 2, 2020, and wrote: “Just minutes before sunset and after raining, this double rainbow showed up on the eastern side of the sky. I gripped my camera and went outside and took several photos. This is one of them showing orange and red color inside the rainbow.”

Lawrence, you’ve caught a double red rainbow – a cousin to an ordinary multi-colored rainbow – that happens when the sun is low in the sky.

See how tall your rainbows are? The height of a rainbow corresponds (inversely) to the height of the sun in your sky. High sun, low rainbow. Low sun, high rainbow. So rainbow-watchers would know, without your having mentioned it, that the sun was low.

Now think about low suns for a moment. They typically appear reddish. That’s because – around sunset – you’re looking at the sun through a greater thickness of atmosphere than when the sun is high in the sky. At such times, the blue and green components of multi-colored sunrays are weakened by scattering during their long journey through the atmosphere to your eyes.

So red sunsets and red rainbows go hand-in-hand.

Thank you, Lawrence!

Read more and see more photos: What makes a red rainbow?

Bottom line: Photo of a red rainbow over Bellingham, Washington, on May 5, 2020.

May 4, 2020
Today's Image

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