Rainbow Facts for Kids

  • Rainbows by definition is an arc of spectral colors that appears in the sky opposite the sun as a result of refractive dispersion of sunlight in drops of rain.
  • A rainbow occurs when it is raining in one part of the sky and sunny in another.
  • The colors of the rainbow are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.
  • An easy way to remember the colors of the rainbow is ROY G. BIV.
  • It is believed that rainbow got its name from its shape.  A rainbow’s arc looks similar to a bow for  shooting arrows.  People also noticed that this colorful arc would only form when it was raining so they called it a rainbow.
  • Scientist Isaac Newton explained how a rainbow forms.
  • Sunlight is really made up of the colors of the rainbow.  When those colors are all mixed together it is called white light. White light is the light we see everyday.
  •  When sunlight travels through the air in the same direction we see white light.  When the sunlight enters through a raindrop the colors separate causing us to see a rainbow.
  • Each raindrop makes its own rainbow but it takes millions of raindrops for us to see a rainbow.
  • A rainbow arch is a 42 degree angle starting from the direction opposite from the sun.
  • Sometimes sunlight is reflected twice inside a raindrop.  When this occurs we get a secondary rainbow or a double rainbow.
  • The colors of a secondary or double rainbow are in opposite order of the primary or first rainbow.  You will see violet on top of the secondary rainbow instead of red.
  • Moonbows or lunar rainbows occur when the moon’s light reflects through the raindrop.  This type of rainbow is rare because the moon’s light usually isn’t bright enough for a rainbow to form.
  • Did you know that no two people see the same rainbow, why?
  • A person standing next to you is standing in a slightly different spot and sees the rainbow in a slightly different place.  The rainbow may look the same but there a little different because the person next to you sees different raindrops.
  • When the sun is lower the rainbow will be higher in the sky.
  • When the sun is higher the rainbow will be lower in the sky.
  • On the ground we only see a semi-circle rainbow but from very high up such as on an airplane you can see a rainbow in a complete circle.
  • Did you know you can never get to the end of the rainbow. When you move the rainbow moves too.
  • You cannot touch a rainbow.
  • How you ever noticed that you don’t see many rainbows in the winter in cold climate.  This is because in the winter raindrops freeze into snowflakes so less raindrops fall.
  • You see more rainbows in tropical locations and by waterfalls.
  • Earth is the only planet in the solar system where rainbows are possible.
  • Upside down rainbows or cirumzenithal arcs can sometimes occur they are also known as sun smiles. They form when the sunlight reflects through ice crystals.
  • In ancient times many different civilizations had different beliefs about rainbows.
  • In Greek mythology Iris was believed to come with the rainbow as a bridge between the heavens and earth.
  • The ancient people of Serbia believed that the rainbow was the Storm God’s bow and that he used it to shoot arrows of lightening through the sky.
  • Ever try to make a rainbow at home?  Try standing with your back to the sun.  Take a water hose and spray it in front of you keeping the sun behind you.  Watch what happens. A rainbow should form.
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