Third graders from Winfield Street Elementary School were featured in this week’s Weather Wisdom. Maddison Bunevitch asked, “how do rainbows get their color?”
Rainbows are formed when water droplets are suspended in the air. Sunlight then moves through those droplets, slowing down and bending as it goes from air to denser water. Then, reflecting off the inside of the droplet, the light separates into wavelengths-otherwise known as colors. That is what we see as a rainbow.
Different wavelengths can be bent more than others. Violet which is the shortest wavelength of visible light bends the most, while red has the longest wavelength and bends the least. When the light exits the droplet, it’s separated into all its wavelengths. When the sunlight is coming from behind you, the light reflects back to you from the water droplets. The light will appear separated into all the colors of the rainbow, red on the top and violet on the bottom.