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When There’s No Ground In The Way, A Rainbow Can Be A Full Circle

​Everyone knows how rainbows work: if you go to the end, there’s a pot of gold. But what if… the rainbow has no end?

 

As Slate’s Phil Plait explained a few years ago, most of us never see a fully circular rainbow because we’re on the ground:

[T]echnically, any raindrop 42° away from the anti-solar point (ooh, fancy science-speak again) will bend the light back to you. We see rainbows in the sky because in general the ground is close to you. When we look up toward the sky we see for a long way, and there are lots of raindrops along your eyeline that can add their light together to make the rainbow. When you look down, the ground gets in the way, there aren’t as many drops, and you don’t see a rainbow.

[Slate]

But if you weren’t on the ground, and were instead in a plane or a very, very tall crane (like our cameraman above), there would be enough space to look down and see the rainbow continue — thus the full circle. Cool.

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