The quadruple rainbow snapped by entrepreneur Amanda Curtis is breaking the Internet. The photo was taken on April 21 at Glen Cove LIRR Station. The breathtaking photo has since become viral. However, experts are saying that the rainbow snapped by Curtis is not a true quadruple rainbow.
Surreal Quadruple Rainbow
Curtis said she was surprised for the attention given to the photo of the quadruple rainbow.
“It’s been surreal I feel like we’re breaking the Internet but in a really great way. I just posted a photo that I thought others would enjoy and apparently they have and now it’s reaching a ton of people,” Curtis told PIX11 News.
“It was more like ‘wow, it’s peaceful right now and that’s really great but yeah let’s get to work because I have a company to run.’”
Curtis is the founder of a clothing company called Nineteenth Amendment, which now offers $25 off for first-time customers using the promo code “rainbow.”
Quadruple rainbow by Amanda Curtis is not a true quadruple rainbow
The quadruple rainbow snapped by Curtis is not a real rainbow but a phenomena called “sunlight-reflection,” according to Raymond Lee, a research professor at the U.S. Naval Academy.
“These rainbows can form when sunlight is reflected from a water surface behind or in front of the viewer, with the result that the sun’s reflected virtual image forms a second light source which appears as far below the horizon as the sun’s real image is above it. A map of the Glen Cove, NY LIRR station shows that Curtis had a great location with Hempstead Bay to the [northwest], nearly opposite the morning sun,” Lee told Fast Company.
According to Lee, a true quadruple rainbow is a sunlight that is being reflected four times inside each raindrop and that which appears around the sun, approximately 44 degrees from it. The sunlight-reflection rainbow that Curtis snapped on Tuesday was created by two reflections within two raindrops, with the sun’s reflected image as the source of light.
“Because [this] optical process can make visible as many as two primary rainbows and two secondary rainbows opposite the sun (with one pair slightly offset in elevation from the other), the label ‘quadruple’ understandably gets used. However, the unusual sunlight-reflection rainbows are entirely different rainbow phenomena from (and appear on the opposite side of the sky from) the extraordinarily rare tertiary and quaternary rainbows,” Lee expounded.
Curtis’ quadruple rainbow is still a rainbow
Curtis’ quadruple rainbow may not be considered as a true quadruple rainbow in terms of its definition, but it still is a rainbow. The National Center for Atmospheric Research and the UCAR Office of Programs still classify it as reflection rainbow.
According to the center, reflection rainbows are “a combination of two rainbows produced by sunlight coming from two different directions – one directly from the sun, the other from the reflected image of the sun. The angles are quite different and therefore the elevation of the rainbow arcs will be correspondingly different. The rainbow produced by sunlight reflected from the water is higher in the sky than is the one produced by direct sunlight.”
Indeed, photographs of reflection rainbows “are perhaps the most impressive of rainbow photographs,” the center said.
— Amanda Curtis (@amanda_curtis) April 21, 2015
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