Returning from a storm interception last night (June 10) and watching the sky from a red traffic signal, I saw a brilliant rainbow glowing against the dark background of clouds. The receding severe thunderstorm was rolling off to the east and the late evening sun was shining through clearing skies in the west. I hoped I could reach Medina’s Public Square before the rainbow faded, since there was the possibility of shooting landmark buildings with a rainbow above. I parked and trotted with my camera across the Square’s green and in light rain, with occasional cloud-crawling lightning overhead, I found my spot. That late sunshine was lighting the bright red top of the city’s old Town Hall and Engine House, dark sky in the background, and — yes! — that brilliant rainbow with a companion arc making the picture. I stood there for a while, shooting the rapidly changing lighting and rainbow intensity and when the sun went away, so did I. I’m very pleased with the resulting picture, which The Medina Gazette published today (at unfortunately low resolution), and I hope it brought a smile to many people who saw it.
The skies began clearing this evening after a day of dull, gray clouds and occasional light rain. As I was driving this evening the sun began shining brightly from behind me and ahead, against a backdrop of dark cloud, a rainbow began to appear. As the sun grew brighter, so did the long, colorful arc — a full bow across the eastern sky. Of course there was little opportunity for a clear view of the spectacle so, at my first opportunity, I pulled into a parking lot, whipped out my Canon PowerShot G11, and made a few exposures of the brightest part of the rainbow. The colors were unbelievably intense and the full spectrum of visible color could be seen — most unusual! Traces of concentric bows could also be spotted but the bright bands completely dominated the scene. As I watched the colors began fading from the northern section of the rainbow, intensifying in the southern part — behind wires, trees, and buildings; the show was over for me. I’m glad I stopped as soon as I could. I’m a sucker for ordinary miracles.
Addendum: An interesting photo was posted to the Palomar Skies blog… yes, the historic and world-famous Palomar Observatory! See: Palomar Flies its Colors! It turns out the technical name for this phenomenon is "circumhorizon arc." More on this may be found at: Atmospheric Optics.