This Rare ‘Quadruple’ Rainbow Photo Goes Viral

This Rare ‘Quadruple’ Rainbow Photo Goes Viral

The internet was abuzz after a netizen shared a photo of a rare “quadruple” rainbow she snapped while on her way to catch a train.

The co-founder of a Brooklyn-based Nineteenth Amendment, Amanda Curtis, was at Glen Cove NY train station in New York when she happened to glanced up the sky and see the spectacular sight.

She quickly snapped a photo and would have taken more had she not heard her train coming.

So, she swiftly raced to the station just in time to catch the train and was not able to take anymore photos of the four rainbows.

She shared the photo on Facebook and it quickly goes viral. Within days after she posted the photo, the post has been shared over 23,600 times!

What made her post go viral that quickly is that most people have not seen that many rainbows in real life. So, it was quite lucky for Amanda to have taken that rare shot!

Quadruple rainbow at the Glen Cove NY train station. Today will be four pots of gold lucky #chasetherainbow

Posted by Amanda Curtis on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Quadruple Rainbows Not Real Rainbows?

After Amanda’s post went viral, several experts came forward debunking the claim that it was a quadruple rainbow she saw.

Meteorology Professor Raymond Lee who teaches at the U.S. Naval Academy studies and writes about rare rainbows.

According to him, there have only been around five confirmed reports of rainbows similar to what Amanda has photographed but said “quadruple rainbows” are not “real rainbows” per se.

It is impossible to have quadruple rainbows!

Lee said the proper term would have been “quaternary” not “quadruple”. However, it goes more than just the term Amanda used in her post.

Here’s Lee’s explanation:

First, a quick primer on rainbows. They are created when light is reflected through water droplets. A double rainbow happens when leftover light comes back for a second reflection through the raindrop.

With each turn, the rainbow fades a bit.

When light heads through for a third or fourth time – called tertiary and quaternary, not quadruple – that is rare, maybe five have been confirmed in 250 years, Lee said.

But when that occurs, the third and fourth rainbows are on the opposite side of the sky, like book ends, something dictated by complicated physics.

Therefore, although Amanda was able to photograph four rainbows in the sky, two of the rainbows were just a reflection of a double rainbow. So, technically, it could not be a quadruple rainbow.

Lee’s explanation was also confirmed by physics professor Craig Wiegert of the University of Georgia and meteorology director Jeff Masters of Weather Underground.

Despite the experts’ scientific explanations, netizens were still amazed by the rainbow in Amanda’s photographs.

I wish I could have been there to see those rainbows for myself, even if they were just reflections of the real rainbows!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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