Climate and Weather

Air Phenomena

What is the order of colors in a rainbow?

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet are the colors of the rainbow, but these are not necessarily the sequence of colors that an observer might see. Rainbows are formed when raindrops reflect sunlight. As sunlight enters the drops, the different wavelengths of the colors that compose sunlight are refracted at different lengths to produce a spectrum of color. Each observer sees a different set of raindrops at a slightly different angle. Drops at different angles from the observer send different wavelengths (i.e., different colors) to the observer’s eyes. Since the color sequence of the rainbow is the result of refraction, the color order depends on how the viewer sees this refraction from the viewer’s angle of perception.


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