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A rainbow arches over the gardens at the Canada pavilion at Epcot in Walt Disney World
Rainbow formation.png

A rainbow is an arc of color in the sky that can be seen when the sun shines through falling rain. The pattern of colors starts with red on the outside and changes through orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo to violet on the inside.

A rainbow is created when light is bent (refracted) while entering a droplet of water and reflected. A rainbow is actually round. On the ground, the bottom part is hidden, but in the sky, like from a flying airplane, it can be seen as a circle.

Rainbows are popular symbols that can mean peace and harmony. In the Book of Genesis it's a symbol of God's promise not to flood the world again.


Rainbow in a thunderstorm that is moving away (at lake Zürich)

The rainbow effect can be seen when:

  • There are water drops in the air; and
  • The sun is giving light at the back of the observer at a low distance up or angle.

The rainbow displays with the deepest effect in our minds take place when:

  • Half of the sky is still dark with draining clouds; and
  • The observer is at a place with clear sky above.

Another common place to see the rainbow effect is near waterfalls. Parts of rainbows can be seen some of the time:

  • at the edges of clouds lit from the back; or
  • as upright bands of spectrum in far away rain even if it does not fall on the earth.

An unnatural rainbow effect can also be made putting drops of water into the air on a sunny day.

The seven colors of the rainbow

Note: The spectrum colors can only be approximated on a computer screen but the colors shown below are a close approximation of the spectrum colors of the rainbow.

  • Red (web color) (Hex: #FF0000) (RGB: 255, 0, 0)
  • Orange (color wheel Orange) (Hex: #FF7F00) (RGB: 255, 127, 0)
  • Yellow (web color) (Hex: #FFFF00) (RGB: 255, 255, 0)
  • Green (X11) (Electric Green) (HTML/CSS “Lime”) (Color wheel green) (Hex: #00FF00) (RGB: 0, 255, 0)
  • Blue (web color) (Hex: #0000FF) (RGB: 0, 0, 255)
  • Indigo (Electric Indigo) (Hex: #4B0082) (RGB: 75, 0, 130)
  • Violet (Electric Violet) (Hex: #8B00FF) (RGB: 143, 0, 255)