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Dr WLS, PhD
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 483
Experience:  PhD degree in engineering/physics , online tutor since 1994 in general subjects
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# Under the Rainbow

### Customer Question

can you be under the rainbow and see the colors? If yes why if not why not?
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  Dr WLS replied 11 years ago.

No, you can't. The colored rays from a rainbow have to form an arc of directions that are deviated about 137 degrees from the direction of the incoming light. That is because the rainbow is created by multiple reflection inside spherical water droplets, as shown in

Rays through a large raindrop

The sun must always be behind you when looking at a rainbow. The angle of all points on the rainbow is about 53 degrees from the center of the circle. If the rainbow were above you, that angle would be 90 degrees, but that is not possible for the reasons I have mentioned.

You can see a rainbow as a circle below you when you are flying in an airplane above thin white clouds, and the sun is high in the sky. I have seen that effect a few times.

Dr WLS, PhD
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 483
Experience: PhD degree in engineering/physics , online tutor since 1994 in general subjects
Dr WLS and 35 other General Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Dr WLS's Post: Thank you for answering the question! This has been an ongoing question for awhile.
Expert:  Dr WLS replied 11 years ago.
My pleasure! I am glad that mystery is solved! You are very kind and I appreciate your comments and acceptance

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