A rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that is caused by both reflection and refraction of light in water droplets in the Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. It takes the form of a multicoloured arc. Rainbows caused by sunlight always appear in the section of sky directly opposite the sun.
All rainbows are full circles, however, the average observer only sees approximately the upper half of the arc, the illuminated droplets above the horizon from the observer’s line of sight.
In a "primary rainbow", the arc shows red on the outer part and violet on the inner side. This rainbow is caused by light being refracted (bent) when entering a droplet of water, then reflected inside on the back of the droplet and refracted again when leaving it.
In a double rainbow, a second arc is seen outside the primary arc, and has the order of its colours reversed, red facing toward the other one, in both rainbows. This second rainbow is caused by light reflecting twice inside water droplets.
Rainbows can be observed whenever there are water drops in the air and sunlight shining from behind at a low altitude angle. The most spectacular rainbow displays happen when half the sky is still dark with raining clouds and the observer is at a spot with clear sky in the direction of the sun. The result is a luminous rainbow that contrasts with the darkened background.
The rainbow effect is also commonly seen near waterfalls or fountains. In addition, the effect can be artificially created by dispersing water droplets into the air during a sunny day. Rarely, a moonbow, lunar rainbow or nighttime rainbow, can be seen on strongly moonlit nights. As human visual perception for colour is poor in low light, moonbows are often perceived to be white. It is difficult to photograph the complete semicircle of a rainbow in one frame, as this would require an angle of view of 84°. For a 35 mm camera, a lens with a focal length of 19 mm or less wide-angle lens would be required. Now that powerful software for stitching several images into a panorama is available, images of the entire arc and even secondary arcs can be created fairly easily from a series of overlapping frames. From an aeroplane, one has the opportunity to see the whole circle of the rainbow, with the plane’s shadow in the centre. This phenomenon can be confused with the glory, but a glory is usually much smaller, covering only 5–20°.
At good visibility conditions (for example, a dark cloud behind the rainbow), the second arc can be seen, with inverse order of colours. At the background of the blue sky, the second arc is barely visible.
As is evident by the photos on this page, the sky inside of a primary rainbow is brighter than the sky outside of the bow. This is because each raindrop is a sphere and it scatters light in a many-layered stack of coloured discs over an entire circular disc in the sky, but only the edge of the disc, which is coloured, is what is called a rainbow. Alistair Fraser, coauthor of The Rainbow Bridge: Rainbows in Art, Myth, and Science, explains: "Each color has a slightly different sized disc and since they overlap except for the edge, the overlapping colors give white, which brightens the sky on the inside of the circle. On the edge, however, the different-sized colored discs don’t overlap and display their respective colors — a rainbow arc."
Light of primary rainbow arc is 96% polarized tangential to the arch. Light of second arc is 90% polarized.
Source: Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia. more Info at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow
Photos taken this afternoon, there were two rainbows at one point but unfortunatley one disappeared very quickly leaving part of one. The main shot is a close up showing the colours.