Abstract

A theory for the brightness of rainbows is presented. The light reaching the observer consists of a beam of singly scattered sunlight, originating from the directly illuminated portion of a rainswath, which, in turn, has suffered depletion by scattering or absorption in its path through the atmosphere. The model incorporates the relevant features of cloud geometry and solar position in relation to the observer appropriate to rainbows. The model helps explain why the bottom (or near-horizon portion) of the rainbow tends to be both brighter and redder than the top (or horizontal portion furthest above the ground) when the sun is near the horizon. The greater brightness of the bottom of the bow derives principally from the greater length of the directly illuminated part of the rainswath near the horizon, while the increased redness of the bow’s bottom is due to the severe depletion of the short-wavelength contribution to the rainbow beam in its passage through the atmosphere.

© 1982 Optical Society of America

Full Article  |  PDF Article

References

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Citation lists with outbound citation links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Cited By

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Cited by links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Figures (10)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Figure files are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Equations (16)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Equations are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Metrics

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Article level metrics are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription