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Secondary Rainbows

A second rainbow, higher up in the sky.

Secondary rainbows are caused when light is reflected twice within a raindrop, compared with only once for a normal rainbow.

The colours in the secondary rainbow are in reverse order of the primary rainbow—red is on the inside of the bow while violet is on the outside.

Between the primary and secondary rainbows the sky appears dark. Raindrops reflect some light below the primary rainbow and above the secondary rainbow. This light is too faint for our eyes to be able to distinguish clearly, but we still notice the extra brightness. However no extra light is reflected into the space between the two rainbows, so this appears darker than the rest of the sky.


Secondary rainbow
magnifySecondary rainbow


Two reflections within a raindrop
magnifyTwo reflections within a raindrop
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