“Global Rainbow” is an outdoor art installation by Yvette Mattern that consists of seven high powered lasers projecting a bright rainbow across the night sky. The rainbow was originally displayed in New York in 2009, but has since appeared in cities across the UK. If you’re lucky enough to see the project in real life, be sure to take some photographs — it’s not every day you get to enjoy rainbows at night. Read more…
Seeing a double rainbow is a relatively rare treat, but how about three or four rainbows? Scientists have only reported seeing triple rainbows five times over the past 250 years, but German photographer Michael Theusner was recently able to capture this first ever photograph of a fourth-order rainbow. Ordinary rainbows (first and second order) appear in the area of the sky opposite the sun (and aren’t seen in his shot), but when higher order rainbows appear, they show up on the sunward side.
Last year, U.S. Naval Academy meteorologist Raymond Lee and a colleague, Philip Laven, laid out a prediction for the conditions that would produce third-order rainbows, and they challenged rainbow-chasers to go out and find one. Among the requirements: dark thunderclouds, and either a heavy downpour or a rainstorm with nearly uniform rain droplets. If the sun broke through the clouds under these conditions, it could project a dim tertiary rainbow against the dark clouds nearby, they said. [#]
Back in May, a photographer named Michael Grossman followed this advice and succeeded in capturing the first ever photo of a third-order rainbow. Lee’s challenge and Grossman’s success are what inspired Theusner to try his hand at photographing higher order rainbows. You can find more background info on Theusner’s blog and in his recently published scientific paper.
“Moonbows” are rainbows that appear at night under moonlight, and are difficult to see with human eyes but beautiful when captured in long exposure photographs. There aren’t many places on Earth where this phenomenon can be regularly witnessed, but a few of them are found at the waterfalls in Yosemite.
Steven Bumgardner, the video producer for the national park, spent two years moonbow hunting and shot over 20,000 still photos with a Canon 5D Mark II to create the time-lapse sequences seen in the video above. After watching, you might want to add “moonbows” your list of things to see and photograph (along with the northern lights, perhaps).