Abstract

Although quantitative observations of rainbow spectra, colors, and luminances are needed for any comprehensive analysis of rainbow scattering theory, very little such data has been published. But new remote sensing tools now make possible the detailed spectral and colorimetric measurement of natural rainbows, which here are defined as bows seen in sunlit rain or water-drop sprays. To measure these often short-lived phenomena, both multispectral tools (colorimetrically calibrated RGB cameras) and hyperspectral tools (imaging spectrometers) are used to examine the spectral and angular fine structure of natural rainbows. Airy theory for aerodynamically flattened drops helps to explain some of these bows’ observed features, such as the reduced color gamuts caused by smaller drop sizes and low sun elevations h0. However, other features such as the distinct blues seen in rainbows at higher h0 are not well explained.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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