Rainbows - Western Isles - Photos
Rainbows seem to be so beautiful, here in the Western Isles, perhaps its the big open "skies" that allow us to see their beauty. The rainbows inspired me to create this page to show a few photographs and also to give a few scientific details and interesting facts about how rainbows are formed and how many different types of rainbows there are along with various legends and beliefs surrounding rainbows.
Click the pictures below for larger images

Rainbows in The Western Isles - Rainbows - Isle of Harris - Isle of Lewis
It seems to me that rainbows here in the Western isles when they appear, seem to be all the more stunning than I have seen throughout Scotland and the UK. Perhaps this is because the scenery here in the Isle of Lewis and The Isle of Harris lens itself to the display of a rainbow, being that there are such huge vistas of "Big Open Skies", the panoramic views mean that you can often view the enter arc of the rainbows.

This being the case, I felt that perhaps readers might like to learn more facts about rainbows and how they are formed, and what type of rainbows there are as I am sure that many readers will have been under the illusion that " a rainbow is a rainbow" whereas indeed there are many different types of rainbows, which are formed being dependant upon various elements and scientific factors which are present as they are formed. Below is just an broad overview of rainbow facts.

Wonderful Optical Effect -A Rainbow - Spherical

The rainbow is a well known optical effects related to weather. As a child, It excited me to see a rainbow in the sky and marvel at the beauty. Often it is a fact that photographs don't really do the rainbow justice, its often much more pretty in reality than in the pictures

The rainbow is a beautiful, natural phenomenon which inspired me to create this web page of information. In fact, rainbows are spherical All rainbows are completely round, it is just that we don’t usually see the whole rainbow because we’re standing on the ground and looking toward the horizon. You usually are just seeing the top edge of a rainbow, if you were in the air, looking down, say from a plane, you would see a circle of coloured light. Rainbows are beautiful multicoloured arcs of light in the sky

Colours of The Rainbow - Brightness or Purity
The colours of the Rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue,indigo and violet. Red is at the top edge of the rainbow and Violet is at the bottom. Many people remember the colours by reciting the old phrase "Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain".

In fact, our eyes can discern many more individual shades and hues. These colours can be mixed to give rise to secondary or complimentary colours. In "reality" the rainbow colours consist of the "entire light colour spectrum" but it is our visual system which forms the actual bands of colour. Some of the light is not reflected which makes the rainbow partially transparent, but some of the light passes through the raindrops. The size of the raindrops define the "purity" of the colours of the rainbow. Large drops give bright rainbows and well defined colours; small droplets produce rainbows of overlapping colours that appear nearly white.

Each Person Sees a "Different" Rainbow
When you look at a rainbow, you are seeing the light bounced off particular raindrops. The person who is stood either just to right or just to your left side is looking at the same rainbow, however they can potentially see the light reflecting off other raindrops from a completely different angle. In addition, everyone sees colours differently according to light and how their eyes interpret it.

How is a Rainbow Formed?
Millions of raindrops needed to create a rainbow! A rainbow is all light and water. The Colours appear together as an arc that is formed by the bending or reflection and refraction of the sun's rays inside raindrops. The displays appear when it is raining in one part of the sky and sunny in another.

The Refraction of Light
Light bends and changes direction when it travels from one substance to the next. Different mediums cause the light to travel at different speeds. As sunlight enters a raindrop, it bends and it is separated into the colours that actually comprise white light. Parts of the light are reflected out from the raindrop, each individual colour strikes the back of the raindrop at different angles and is reflected back. Only one colour comes out from a raindrop at a precise angle so as to reach your eye and as you see only one colour at any given time reflecting from a raindrop, it is such that it takes millions of raindrops to create a rainbow

When Will I see A Rainbow?

You may see a rainbow when the sun is shining and there is also present rain. The sun is always behind you and the rain in front of you. The angle the main rainbow can be seen is actually 40 degrees from the horizon. The best time to see a rainbow is in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is lower in the sky.

Secondary Bows - Double Rainbows
In a double rainbow the secondary bow as light can be reflected more than once inside a raindrop, rays escaping after two reflections make a secondary bow. The secondary bow has nd its colours are reversed so that the reds of the two bows always face one another.

Moonbows - Lunar Rainbows
You may be surprised to know that rainbows can also be seen during night time! The moonlight is able to produce enough light to create a rainbow which is often called a "Lunar Rainbow" or "Moonbow". THese don't occur very often as the moonlight isn't often bright enough for the phenomenon. To the unaided eye they usually would appear without colour because their light is not bright enough to activate the cone colour receptors in your eyes, however colours have been reported and might be seen when the moon is bright.

Supernumerary Arcs or Rainbows
Sometimes you can look at a rainbow and see faint arcs just inside and near the top of the primary bow. Extra bands, usually pale pink or green in colour, are often seen on the inside of the primary rainbow. These are called supernumerary arcs which arise from the interference of light along certain rays within the drop. Supernumeraries are created by small, almost same sized raindrops. The number of visible supernumerary arcs depends upon the size of the raindrops.

Fogbows - White Rainbows
A fogbow is caused due to fog, and not tiny water droplets. This happens when the water drops are extremely tiny and light cant pass through them in the same way as it would in a normal rainbow, then reflection happens, but does not disperse light adequately in its colours. Instead the colours overlap that gives a white coloured band. This band is sometimes called a "White Rainbow". Fogbows will typically appear in cold areas

Upside Down Rainbows - Circumzenithal arcs

I for one have never seen one of these, perhaps this is because they are quite rare, and are usually only seen in very cold climates. . These are caused by ice crystals in the air as opposed to the rain which creates normal rainbows.. Normal rainbows form when light refracts through raindrops, mist, or sometimes even sea spray.

Red Rainbows
These occur sunset, when light travels a far distance to reach the waterdrops, by the time the light reaches the rain drops the blue end of the spectrum is lost or scattered and only red light emerges from the rain drop forming red arcs of light.

History of Discover of Replicating The Colours - Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton use a glass prism and a slit of light to replicate the colours etc. Sir Isaac Newton discovered the seven distinct colours of the visible spectrum His experiment is still remembered and used today to help explain the rainbows appearances.

Biblical Reference to The Creation of Rainbows - said to Noah in Genesis

In Genesis in the Bible there is quite a mention of rainbows, which it is said that God created as a sign for humanity after the floods that there would never again be such floods! God said to Noah and his sons

"I am going to make a solemn promise to you and to everyone who will live after you. 10 This includes the birds and the animals that came out of the boat. I promise every living creature that the earth and those living on it will never again be destroyed by a flood.

The rainbow that I have put in the sky will be my sign to you and to every living creature on earth. It will remind you that I will keep this promise forever. When I send clouds over the earth, and a rainbow appears in the sky, I will remember my promise to you and to all other living creatures. Never again will I let floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the sky, I will always remember the promise that I have made to every living creature. The rainbow will be the sign of that solemn promise."

Pot Of Gold at The End of A Rainbow? Can you Reach the End of a Rainbow?

You can't actually get to the end of a rainbow, for that "promised" pot of gold in the old saying!. As you move, the rainbow that your eyes see moves as well, because the raindrops are at different spots in the atmosphere. The rainbow, then, will always "move away" at the same rate that you are moving

Pot of Gold at the End of a Rainbow - Irish Legend
The Irish legend states that leprechauns (fairy folk) each have a pot of gold that they protect, which they hide at the end of the rainbow.

Legends - Culture Belief's about Rainbows - Omens - Sign of Hope - Tongue of The Sun - Bridge

Often it is believed by many that a rainbow is "an omen" and there are many tales and mythological beliefs that surround rainbows. Many legends state that a rainbow is as a kind of bridge between heaven and earth.

In Western Culture rainbows re seen as a sign of "HOPE".

The Arawak Indians of South America recognize the rainbow as a fortunate sign if it seen over the ocean.

To Iranian Moslems, even the brilliance of the colours in a rainbow have significance. A prominent green means abundance, red means war, and yellow brings certain death. Siberian tribes see it as the tongue of the sun.

The North American Catawba Indians of the Southeast and the Tlingit of the Northwest both regard it as the bridge between the living and the dead.

Greek Goddess
Iris was the Greek goddess of the rainbows

Hindu belief
Indra, is the god of storms and war and king of all the gods in Hindu mythology. One of the weapons he carries is the rainbow; he is known for being a great warrior and is worshiped for delivering the rain.

German Belief about Rainbows - End of the World

The germans used to believe that a rainbow that doesn't’ appear for forty years signifies the end of the world.

Japanese Rainbow Thoughts
It is said that the Japanese believe that a rainbow is a floating bridge to heaven.

Zulus and Rainbows
In the far past it's said that Zulus thought that a rainbow was an huge supernatural serpent. They called these rainbows "snake bows" and believed that they came out after a rainfall to eat unsuspecting humans and cattle.

Buddhist and Rainbow beliefs
Buddhists related the rainbow to the seven regions of the earth. This is said to be because rainbows have seven colours. It is the next highest state achievable before Nirvana and the place where everything individual is extinguished.

Poet - Wordsworth wrote about Rainbows

"My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky: So it was when my life began; So it is now I am a man; So be it when I shall grow old, or let me die!"
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