From decorating your home to teaching a room full of students, Rainbow Symphony loves bringing rainbows and science into your daily life! We’re experts on rainbows, as well as all things, light and color so when you’re wondering how to create a double rainbow, we can help! If you’re ready to learn what a double rainbow is, how to make one that’s vibrant all the time, and where you can see them in nature, read on here for more information.
What is a Double Rainbow?
You may have thought there was only one kind of rainbow! In fact, there are actually 12 classifications of rainbow that are determined by which colors are visible in the arc. When it comes to double rainbows, these classifications still exist, but the way the rainbow itself is created is a bit different from a single arc rainbow.
A double rainbow is when two distinct arcs are formed. They have separate origin points and the second arc is a mirror image of the first with the colors reversed. The indigo hue will be on the outside, while the red shades will be on the inside of the arc! The second rainbow also tends to be slightly lighter and much larger than the original rainbow arc. There is always some distance between the two bands, and the space in between is called Alexander’s band.
How Are Double Rainbows Created?
A single arc rainbow is created when sunlight enters a raindrop, is refracted (broken up) into multiple colors, and reflected off the back of the drop and out again. What we end up seeing is a single rainbow arc made up of multiple colors.
In a double rainbow, the light is reflected back twice within the same drop. Instead of creating a triangular line of reflection in the raindrop, the light bounce off once more to make a square shape. The second rainbow generally appears about 10 degrees above the first rainbow. It’s not unusual to experience triple or even quadruple rainbows when the conditions are just right!
Where to See Rainbows in the Real World
You don’t have to know how to create a double rainbow to see them in the real world. Rainbows generally appear after a rain shower or thunderstorm, but you can also see them anywhere water and light mix. Next time you’re walking by some sprinklers or there’s a fine mist in the air, look around you to spot some colorful displays. If you’re looking for the perfect double rainbow, the best conditions to view them are at dusk after a heavy rain.
How to Create Your Own Double Rainbow with a Jar of Water
If you’re ready to learn how to create a double rainbow yourself, you’ll need to gather a few tools.
- A Bright Light Source
- A Clear Jar Full Of Water
- A Dark Room
Your bright light source acts as the sun, your jar of water is the raindrop, and the dark room is the perfect canvas on which to paint your rainbow. It can be a little tricky to spot the rainbows on your first try, but keep at it and soon you’ll learn how to create a double rainbow easily.
Since rainbows are usually seen after rainstorms, when the light is behind you, you’ll need to set up your lamp or light bulb on a desk or table behind where you plan on placing your jar of water. Set your light as high as possible and sit below it with the jar of water. Hold the jar directly in front of you and slowly raise it above your head until you see a reflected spot inside it that looks like a rainbow. Keep raising the jar slowly until you see a second rainbow spot.
This experiment is perfect for kids of all ages and can really help a teacher illustrate how rainbows work!
How to Create a Double Rainbow with a Prism
For rainbows that last a little longer and don’t require you to stay still holding up a jar of water, try this experiment instead.
- Glass Prism
- Strong Sunlight
- White Cardboard or Paper
Place the cardboard or paper in a space with lots of sunlight. Put the prism on the paper or in a place above it in the sunlight. Rotate and shift the prism around until you see rainbows projected on the paper! You don’t always need to use paper if the walls and floor in your room are already light colored.
How to Create More Double Rainbows with Rainbow Symphony
Rainbow Symphony loves bringing you rainbows so much, that we’ve made it super simple to decorate your space with them. Our suncatchers are actually made with a built in holographic prism that allows you to place them anywhere with strong sunlight to get rainbows bouncing everywhere anytime the sun is out!
Now that you know what a double rainbow is and how to create your own double rainbows, we want you to start experimenting! Want more details on twinned rainbows, what kinds of rainbows exist in space, and what a double rainbow is? Check out our Rainbow Infographic today to learn about the different kinds of rainbows!