Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?

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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« on: 28/11/2008 16:17:53 »

Hi peoples something very strange happened to my wife and I while driving back from Torquay yesterday after taking the dogs for a walk. It started to rain. So what?-- I hear you say, it does that a lot in the UK. And I agree it certainly does rain a lot but this was very different. Two magnificent rainbows appeared side by side right in front of the car and we drove right through the end of one of the rainbows.

This is a first for both of us. The road was coloured in a line in front of us, almost like the road had changed into all the colours of the rainbow. It was one of those days you wished you had a camera.

It was truly spectacular.

When we were kids we used to play in the quarry and spray the hosepipe into the air to form a fine mist, this provided us with an artificial rainbow keeping us entertained for half an hour or so.

Hmm just remembered we used to collect phosphorous rocks and thrown them down the road when it was dark that was pretty amazing too come to think of it, anyways back on track.


Has anyone else experienced a rainbow touching down on top of them?
« Last Edit: 28/11/2008 17:29:03 by chris »
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Offline RD

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Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #1 on: 28/11/2008 21:51:46 »
This person looks like they've got their own personal rainbow...

[attachment=5437]

http://www.atoptics.co.uk/droplets/gloim20.htm

But it's actually a "Brocken Spectre" which is primarily due to interference,
 so it's not the same as a rainbow which is due to refraction (dispersion).
« Last Edit: 28/11/2008 22:57:35 by RD »

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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #2 on: 28/11/2008 23:01:22 »
Andrew YES....YES ....YES....I drove through one and mentioned it here in the forum but was told that that was not possible although I seen it with my own eyes.. shining right on my car as I passed through it and it was awesome because when I came out there was a second rainbow well ahead of me.. miles ahead.. so yes.. .. My kink is here somewhere I will find it!

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=7373.msg78171#msg78171
« Last Edit: 28/11/2008 23:05:44 by Karen W. »

"Life is not measured by the number of Breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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« Reply #3 on: 29/11/2008 09:04:47 »
Just read your posts Karen. Awesome, exactly what I saw, and nearly 52 years young this was a first for me. We saw the end of the huge rainbow directly in front of us and I was thinking to myself at the time how bright the small area was as we approached. Again dropping down to around 2-3 miles per hour, we noticed this rainbow was not moving further away but remaining in one location as if waiting for us to drive through it. The spectrum of colours was astonishing. There was no vehicle in front of us so spray could not account for the colours shimmering above the road as SophieCentaur suggested may have been the case.

I know this sounds like an illusion or some other strange explanation may fit it better but having lots of experience with rainbows and rain living in the UK for nearly 52 years this was a first for me. Up to that few minutes of pure ecstasy, I too believed it was impossible to reach the end of the rainbow. A day I shall remember for the rest of my life.



« Last Edit: 29/11/2008 09:06:56 by Andrew K Fletcher »
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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #4 on: 29/11/2008 09:31:00 »


A post from someone who did have a camera at the time she drove through a rainbow :)

Karen looks like we are not imagining things after all.

http://www.43things.com/things/view/229376/find-the-end-of-a-rainbow
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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #5 on: 29/11/2008 09:41:59 »
Science is continually evolving. Nothing is set in stone. Question everything and everyone. Always consider vested interests as a reason for miss-direction. But most of all explore and find answers that you are comfortable with

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Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #6 on: 29/11/2008 17:47:35 »
Rainbows are circular. Where's the end?
Nice pics though.
The last picture I took of a rainbow was one that was entirely orange rather than the usual red through violet. Can anyone think why?
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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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« Reply #7 on: 29/11/2008 18:40:04 »
The end was right in front of my wife and I as we drove through it. This rainbow was definitely a half circle and one end at least was on the ground changing the colour of the road with a fantastic light display exactly as portrayed in the cartoon account above and as seen in the car windscreen picture lighting up the ground where the rainbow appears to end. Karen and my wife saw the same effects and so have many more people. This is not the run of the mill rainbow we are all familiar with but a stationary rainbow that can be viewed and experienced as it is passed through. Had I not have seen it I would be doubtful too.
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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #8 on: 29/11/2008 18:43:53 »
Just read your posts Karen. Awesome, exactly what I saw, and nearly 52 years young this was a first for me. We saw the end of the huge rainbow directly in front of us and I was thinking to myself at the time how bright the small area was as we approached. Again dropping down to around 2-3 miles per hour, we noticed this rainbow was not moving further away but remaining in one location as if waiting for us to drive through it. The spectrum of colours was astonishing. There was no vehicle in front of us so spray could not account for the colours shimmering above the road as SophieCentaur suggested may have been the case.

I know this sounds like an illusion or some other strange explanation may fit it better but having lots of experience with rainbows and rain living in the UK for nearly 52 years this was a first for me. Up to that few minutes of pure ecstasy, I too believed it was impossible to reach the end of the rainbow. A day I shall remember for the rest of my life.





Thanks so much Andrew! It is good to at least find others who experienced the same thing.... It was awesome and like you I slowed down and even backed back up to see if my mind was really seeing it.. I was amazed when I pulled through ...I saw a second one several miles ahead and was baffled and not sure if it had moved.. so Thats why I backed back up I could still see it behind me so I backed back into it to watch the colors on my car again.. It was awesome and I did feel like I was seeing something unusual....  Maybe I should go back and find the treasure... LOL I know jut which place in the road it came down... right in front of some bushes that are still there! ...

"Life is not measured by the number of Breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

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Offline RD

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« Reply #9 on: 30/11/2008 02:01:41 »
The last picture I took of a rainbow was one that was entirely orange rather than the usual red through violet. Can anyone think why?

If the sun was low in the sky (close to sunset /sunrise) the sunlight would have lost a lot of its blue content through Raleigh scattering, the rainbow produced would have a reduced blue-violet content, i.e. be mostly red-orange. (If the sun was low in the sky the rainbow produced would have arced high in the sky). Also some digital cameras and films have a "warm" (orange) bias to give flattering skin tones, (an instant tan), which would distort how the colours of a rainbow were recorded.
« Last Edit: 30/11/2008 02:05:24 by RD »

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Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #10 on: 30/11/2008 14:15:07 »
Got it in one; the picture was taken shortly afer dawn.
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lyner

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« Reply #11 on: 30/11/2008 17:49:15 »
Just read your posts Karen. Awesome, exactly what I saw, and nearly 52 years young this was a first for me. We saw the end of the huge rainbow directly in front of us and I was thinking to myself at the time how bright the small area was as we approached. Again dropping down to around 2-3 miles per hour, we noticed this rainbow was not moving further away but remaining in one location as if waiting for us to drive through it. The spectrum of colours was astonishing. There was no vehicle in front of us so spray could not account for the colours shimmering above the road as SophieCentaur suggested may have been the case.

I know this sounds like an illusion or some other strange explanation may fit it better but having lots of experience with rainbows and rain living in the UK for nearly 52 years this was a first for me. Up to that few minutes of pure ecstasy, I too believed it was impossible to reach the end of the rainbow. A day I shall remember for the rest of my life.

I have been thinking about this again.
The rainbow is a 'virtual' image. The Sun is behind you and the light is dispersed and internally reflected back to you via droplets which are in a cone around a line from the Sun and through your eyes (hence the circular appearance). Traveling directly away from the Sun will make the  rainbow appear to be traveling along with you.
If you are traveling 'towards' one end of the bow then it would normally also appear to be moving. But if there is a changing gradient in the road (and this would have to be a rare / special set of circs)  the apparent end could appear not to be changing its position as you see a different part of your personal circle in contact with the road. Presumably the effect gave up in the end - or else you should have had a spade with you!

You can get a rainbow which you can actually put your hand into if you have a garden spray and get the angles just right.

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Offline Make it Lady

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Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #12 on: 30/11/2008 19:44:43 »
My friend used to fly helicopters in the army and says that if you fly quite high, rainbows look like dounuts.
Give a man a fire and he is warm for a day, set a man on fire and he is warm for the rest of his life.

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Offline RD

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« Reply #13 on: 01/12/2008 05:01:47 »
My friend used to fly helicopters in the army and says that if you fly quite high, rainbows look like dounuts.

Quote
Fanny Craddock’s Doughnuts
 
Picture the scene, the fearful Fanny Craddock, Britain’s first celebrity chef with more make-up than Coco the clown,
 puts finishing touches to some sticky doughnuts during a live transmission of a BBC regional news show.
As she pulls a tray out of the oven the studio presenter turns to camera and closes the item with the immortal [line]

 “and if you're making these at home, I hope all your doughnuts look like Fanny’s”. 
http://entertainment.uk.msn.com/tv/features/article.aspx?cp-documentid=10901404

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lyner

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« Reply #14 on: 03/12/2008 16:52:52 »
A hairy rainbow?

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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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« Reply #15 on: 04/12/2008 08:32:23 »
RD priceless. Loved it :)
My friend used to fly helicopters in the army and says that if you fly quite high, rainbows look like dounuts.

Quote
Fanny Craddock’s Doughnuts
 
Picture the scene, the fearful Fanny Craddock, Britain’s first celebrity chef with more make-up than Coco the clown,
 puts finishing touches to some sticky doughnuts during a live transmission of a BBC regional news show.
As she pulls a tray out of the oven the studio presenter turns to camera and closes the item with the immortal [line]

 “and if you're making these at home, I hope all your doughnuts look like Fanny’s”. 
http://entertainment.uk.msn.com/tv/features/article.aspx?cp-documentid=10901404
Science is continually evolving. Nothing is set in stone. Question everything and everyone. Always consider vested interests as a reason for miss-direction. But most of all explore and find answers that you are comfortable with

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Offline happyman

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Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #16 on: 13/12/2008 18:23:54 »
This is amazing! It really excited me

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lyner

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« Reply #17 on: 14/12/2008 21:54:18 »
To summarise, the answer to the question is, actually NO, although it could look rather like it.

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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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« Reply #18 on: 19/12/2008 10:12:17 »
Longing for the day that you get to see it for yourself :) Be nice if it was on your boat on the ocean changing the water into all the colours of the rainbow. If my wife and I hadn't seen it we would also still believe it was impossible. But there ya go.
Science is continually evolving. Nothing is set in stone. Question everything and everyone. Always consider vested interests as a reason for miss-direction. But most of all explore and find answers that you are comfortable with

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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #19 on: 19/12/2008 11:42:36 »
Me too Andrew!!!

"Life is not measured by the number of Breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

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Offline MarkGreen

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« Reply #20 on: 19/12/2008 16:52:57 »
So pretty! [:o]
I love'em :]
I live green life. Yay for me! Solar Panels is the way to go ;)

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lyner

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« Reply #21 on: 20/12/2008 12:01:53 »
Longing for the day that you get to see it for yourself :) Be nice if it was on your boat on the ocean changing the water into all the colours of the rainbow. If my wife and I hadn't seen it we would also still believe it was impossible. But there ya go.
A rainbow is a well defined phenomenon. What you see is the result of light being internally reflected and dispersed inside water drops. It is a virtual image. The angle subtended by the bow is about 42 degrees from a line through your head from the Sun; it's a cone. That is what an actual rainbow is.

If you want to suggest that, suddenly, light behaved differently for you then I have to doubt you.
You may have seen another phenomenon or even misinterpreted what you saw. There are many other ways of producing a very pretty and striking optical spectrum but they are not rainbows.
Did you want Science to have been suspended, temporarily, for your experience or do you want a scientific explanation for what you saw?

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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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« Reply #22 on: 20/12/2008 14:58:02 »
My wife and I saw a huge rainbow. 1 end of which was close by and was not moving aways as anticipated. we drove closer and eventually right through it at a snails pace. While within the very bright area, the road was coloured and there appeared to be a full spectrum of colours.

Miss interpreted what we saw? Kidding right? Might not have been a rainbow? Bahhhh Humbug
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lyner

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« Reply #23 on: 20/12/2008 17:23:40 »
The problem is: do you have an alternative explanation for how a rainbow is formed? This question strikes me as very relevant.
I could suggest that the spectrum you saw was formed, perhaps, on your windscreen. Did you get our of the car? Could you draw a diagram of the actual situation, including the Sun's direction?
Should I believe YOU or the evidence of my own frequent optical experiments and the eminent logic of the tried (and tested)  description of rainbow formation?
Rainbows behave like rainbows - except for akf??? I don't think so..
« Last Edit: 21/12/2008 01:16:02 by sophiecentaur »

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Offline Cris12

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« Reply #24 on: 24/12/2008 17:01:49 »
Hi. I'm from Hawaii and I'd like to say that I'm glad I found this message board discussing passing through a rainbow. I was recently at Discover.com message board where someone asked if it was possible to pass through a rainbow and most of the posters there discounted it saying that it was an impossibility. I did post something but now the link to that site has been replaced. Anyway, I want to add that I've also experienced passing through a rainbow twice. The first one was the most vivid. It was just an amazing experience seeing all the colors around me. I was driving downhill at that time and there was another car in front of me that passed through it first. The second time I experienced it was on the freeway. I know another person personally who claimed he has experienced it. So there, add me to the few (maybe many?)who have passed through a rainbow.

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lyner

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« Reply #25 on: 26/12/2008 01:15:06 »
It would appear that all the people who claim to have been at / near the end of a rainbow have been in cars. Does anyone actually claim to have walked to the end?
You see, for this to be the case, we should have to seriously rethink all of classical optics and question the operation of mirrors, lenses and prisms. Basically, none of these would operate in a predictable way.  Is there any evidence of this?

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Offline elmejor

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« Reply #26 on: 27/12/2008 12:15:57 »
yup! great pictures, well i dont think it is possible to reach the end of the rainbows as they are circular shaped!

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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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« Reply #27 on: 28/12/2008 10:01:18 »
We need to rethink what is happening here. There will undoubtedly be many more people who have walked through the end of a rainbow, just as all the people who were on foot were walking through the end of the rainbow we saw in Preston, Devon. From the car we could see the colours bathing the people and the road ahead of us, just as reported in the quote below, except we were in a car. And if you tink about it, vehicles travel grater distances than people on foot so are more likely to encounter this phenomenon.


http://forums.mokata.net/ar/t6327.htm
Code: [Select]
mole - February 29, 2008 01:29 AM (GMT)
I was standing out side my villa the other day after a sexy thunderstorm had gone through the mountains, I noticed there was a rainbow there.

I walked under it and I changed all different colours while walking through it.
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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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« Reply #28 on: 28/12/2008 10:31:15 »
http://www.rainbowmaker.us/frcq.htm  Firemen spray water and make a huge rainbow that people walk though on youtube.
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lyner

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« Reply #29 on: 28/12/2008 12:09:12 »
http://www.rainbowmaker.us/frcq.htm  Firemen spray water and make a huge rainbow that people walk though on youtube.
There is nothing wrong with  the idea of someone walking through 'your' rainbow.  You see a rainbow which appears to hit the ground some way in front of you and other people can be seen / filmed walking around / through it. That is not the same as walking through your own bow.
The rainbow is nowhere in particular; it is a virtual image of the Sun, formed by each of the water droplets where you can see it and at a particular angle (same goes for the secondary rainbow, too). You might just as well state that you could walk through a mirror into the image of the room that you see 'behind it'. The room isn't there any more than the rainbow is ' there. They are both virtual images.
If you don't go along with that idea then you are denying the laws of optics and can't expect a mirror, lens or reflex camera to work reliably.

If, yet again, you want to explain a well established phenomenon in some special terms of your own then that is your privilege but, if your explanation does not extend to and explain all other phenomena, it is clearly lacking validity and you can't expect it to be accepted.

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lyner

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« Reply #30 on: 29/12/2008 00:38:42 »
http://www.rainbowmaker.us/frcq.htm  Firemen spray water and make a huge rainbow that people walk though on youtube.
If you actually look at the pictures you will see that the rainbow is circular - symmetrical and each leg appears the same distance away (because the ground is more or less level and it's all green grass). You will also see the people walking around the field, in front of, in and behind the apparent rainbow, which terminates in an indeterminate region somewhere on the ground. Some of the people in shot are actually waving their arms, pointing at and describing the rainbow which they can see which is nowhere near the rainbow that the camera sees - it is their own, personal rainbow.

Have you noticed that a rainbow actually appears 'upside down'/ inside out. Blue light is refracted more than red light but the red band is towards the centre and the blue band is towards the inside. That is because the blue light that you see has come from raindrops which are further out. If the rainbow were a real 'projected' image, the blue band would be on the inside and the red band on the outside.

Someone else could be seeing red light from the same raindrop from which you are getting blue light.
« Last Edit: 29/12/2008 00:40:21 by sophiecentaur »

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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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« Reply #31 on: 29/12/2008 11:06:11 »
Got it Sophie, thanks. The colours on the floor we drove through were part of the circle of the rainbow and therefore could never be the end of the rainbow. But for us, we will remember it as the end of the rainbow if thats ok with you :)
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Offline Jimmy Science

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« Reply #32 on: 27/08/2009 23:31:08 »
Yes is possible, it's easy to replicate what happened when you were driving.  More than likely the cars in front of you were creating fine water droplets that extended the end of the rainbow on the horizon to a few feet in front of you.  I've recreated this on many occasions when there was a good rainbow using a hosepipe set to fine spray.  You need to get the positioning right but what you are actually doing is creating the conditions for the rainbow on the horizon to extend to you feet.  If you get someone to stand in on the other side of the spray the rainbow colours distort their colour which proves that its close to you.  Incidental, the person standing in front cant see the extended rainbow.


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lyner

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« Reply #33 on: 28/08/2009 12:15:44 »
JS,
The scenario you describe is very common and shows how we see what we want to see.  The two 'ends' you see may appear to be at very different distances.
The distance where you think you see the bow is related to the objects in front of which it  appears to end. The bow is virtual - it isn't really anywhere at all.
Traffic spray over the front of the car will make you think that is where the bow is because the front of the car is near you and apparently not obscuring the bow. Hence, you see it as very close.  But you are no 'at it'.

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Offline neveos

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« Reply #34 on: 24/09/2011 04:07:45 »
I registered just to say I am not surprised there is some scientific debate about this, and to provide my own testimony: I can agree with the eyewitnesses here that I was most certainly "at" the end of the rainbow, and did experience passing through multiple colors (very bright) while driving through it.  We were in farmland on a remote country road, and saw the brilliant rainbow from a far distance. In agreement with the other posters, there was a second rainbow some distance away, but it was only a piece of a rainbow, as if broken, but nonetheless an interesting sight.  As we were admiring it, we realized we might appear to pass under it since we were heading in that direction.  As we got closer, we realized that we might actually approach, what appeared to be, the end of the rainbow.  The end of the rainbow was quite large, roughly the size of the road itself, and was touching down directly on the road ahead of us, and having played with the rainbows a water hose is capable of making, I had thought such an objectified manifestation of a rainbow was impossible.  I thought it might flea away, as it appears to do in smaller manifestations.  But, indeed, it did not do this, and we were amazed when we began to pass through the foot of this rainbow.  We did slow down, but I was not driving, so I don't know how fast, as there were cars behind us.  The interior of the car became very bright, and it did, in fact, change colors all around us.  I vividly remember my arm lighting up as though it were being shined upon by a sequence of colored lights.  The entire experience was so elating and momentary that it is very difficult to describe the experience in detail, but the only way to describe it, is that it was like a bubble of incredible luminosity that changed the surfaces around you different colors.

If I could speculate how this occurs, I would like to begin by saying that I thought that merely having my eyes approach the -end- of the rainbow were impossible.  As though I could only approach the center, like a hologram.  Indeed, I did approach the end of the rainbow, like in a leprechaun myth.  Secondly, I might remark that yes there was a light rain, and the conditions were very similar to the picture posted earlier in this thread (unknown whether it is legitimate or not, but it looked very much like that, although the rainbow itself was a bit more vivid and larger).  Lastly, I want to iterate the fact that it illuminated my skin with different colors.  It was enough colorization that my skin was another color completely.

How could this manifest?  Why didn't it act like the optical illusion that I can produce with a mist?  I suspect that if we thought about the fact that a rainbow is indeed the result of different colors of light being reflected (refracted) off of the atmosphere, then we can correctly claim that there are ROYGBV colors being casted -somewhere-.  It must be that the rainbow we passed through was simply the location of the highest concentration of these colors.  I honestly don't know how this could work, and that is what interests me greatly.

I can say with complete honesty and sincerity that it did occur just as I say.  I'm sure it would be of great interest to understand how this was able to occur.

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Offline zincsulfate

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Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #35 on: 21/10/2011 08:00:57 »
wow,these pics are very nice,the first pic seems that the man is living in the rainbow,the second one is also very nice.
The motto of zinc sulfate is " I walk with my faith, I run with my determination and I fly with my dream.

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Offline videoman.tv

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #36 on: 09/04/2012 03:57:15 »
The critical factor is the angle of the sun relative to the water drops and the observer.  It has to be behind the observer, and it can't be too high in the sky, as the 'rainbow-projection' would, in that case, point into the ground.

Once you start moving towards a rainbow, you are changing the angle of the sun to yourself, and the rainbow you see would then appear to be in a different 'location' in the sky.

Once you arrive at a spot where it appeared the 'end' of the rainbow was, it is impossible for you to see light reflected off the rain drops that gave you that impression in the first place (the drops that are now in the same physical spot as the ones you saw before, which have all hit the ground by now).

For the same reason you can't see a rainbow from 'behind', you can't find the 'end' of one either.

It is a bit like trying to find the horizon, no matter what, the horizon changes as you move towards it, & by the time you reach that spot, the horizon is now off in the distance.

Another fact of rainbows to consider is that a rainbow isn't like a thin mirror, with all the reflecting drops falling in the same vertical plane. A rainbow visible to an observer at 'Spot A' could very well be comprised of drops a good distance apart, so long as the Sun-Observer angle is the same for all of them, there would likely be a very 'thick' rainbow.

However, if you define the 'physical' rainbow as
"those raindrops that, at a given time, reflect light to a stationary Observer such that he or she sees a ROY G BIV spectrum of light in the sky"  Under this definition, as raindrops fall, the new ones that now Occupy the same physical spaces as the original drops did at the defined 'moment in time' ARE the rainbow, and it would then follow that, although you can't see it, you could, in fact, stand 'inside' your 'rainbow'. You would have to go back to your original location to actually see the rainbow again.

So I change my answer, you CAN find the 'end' of a rainbow, it would be the rainbow you saw awhile ago, however, from "Spot A", it is ONLY visible to Observers of the correct height standing at "Spot A"



 

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Offline damocles

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #37 on: 09/04/2012 14:55:59 »
I am not convinced that these views are correct, and that a rainbow is always and necessarily a virtual image. A prism or a diffraction grating produces a real image, or at least real beams. They do not move with an observer's viewing position, and it is very easy to place a specific part of your hand in a particular colour of beam, and that colour does not change as you move your head while keeping your hand still.

I wonder if it is possible that in unusual weather conditions -- particularly if there is good light, and a fairly narrow funnel of precipitation -- the sunlight could be refracted or diffracted in a similar way to the way the "jewel" hanging in our window does, and produce real, not virtual, projected spectra.
1 4 6 4 1
4 4 9 4 4     
a perfect perfect square square
6 9 6 9 6
4 4 9 4 4
1 4 6 4 1

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Offline wolfekeeper

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #38 on: 10/04/2012 22:24:39 »
The thing about rainbows is that the shadow of your head is always in the direct center of them. So no, you can never reach the end.

In a different sense, you are always at the end of the rainbow, you are at the pointed bit of the cone of the rainbow. The person beside you has their own cone that they're at the end of too!

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Offline evan_au

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #39 on: 06/04/2013 22:45:10 »
The light from a rainbow is produced by internal reflection at the back of a raindrop, and dispersion as it comes out the front of the raindrop.

At visible wavelengths, the rainbow appears at 42 degrees from the Sun. When we see a rainbow, we tend to turn so we can see the whole of it, ie we have our back to the Sun.

However, when we are driving, it is best to keep our eyes ahead on the road(!) If the road happens to be angled at 42 degrees to the Sun, you will seem to be driving straight into one leg of the rainbow, and it won't appear to be moving along with you.

The light comes from a shower of rain, which can be moving towards you or away from you (or, if you are driving, you can be moving towards it). If you get the timing right, the shower of rain can come between you and the car perhaps just 50 meters in front of you, making it appear as if this car is at the end of the rainbow (and raising the expectation that soon you will be, too).

You often don't get just one shower of rain, but there can be multiple showers. This is how you can drive through one rainbow, have it disappear - and see another one. You reverse, and see the first one again.

The giveaway here is that the narrow angle between red & violet in the rainbow does not change as you "approach" the end of the rainbow (see photo provided by Andrew K Fletcher). If you were truly getting close to the end of the rainbow, you would see that it expanded so that you were clearly driving into just (say) the green  band of colour, with the other colours off to the left and right of the road - but in fact all of the colours are still present, they all descend on the road ahead, they seem to cover less than 1 lane of the road, and you never drive into just one of the colours at the end of the rainbow.

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Offline jrmooney56

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #40 on: 06/04/2013 23:16:05 »
You know, I just love all the scientific explanations on here as to why something can not happen. But I'm sorry to contradict all the scientists. Yes it can. It happened to me, personally. I was kayaking on the Susquehanna River one summer afternoon, when off in the distance there was a thunderstorm. All of a sudden a beautiful rainbow appeared. So I decided to chase after it, thinking like everybody else that I couldn't reach the end. When all of a sudden I was bathed in color. It was beautiful. I really couldn't believe it myself. Here I was, doing something that I should not be able to do. I sat in the colors for maybe 5 or 10 minutes. Then the rainbow just faded away. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. So don't let anyone tell you it can't be done. I just wish I would have looked for the pot of gold. LOL (By the way, I might not be a scientist, but I am very knowledgable about nature. All from first hand experience.)

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Offline cheryl j

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #41 on: 07/04/2013 15:16:35 »
I also had a weird rainbow experience. I was driving along and saw a very bright rainbow, smaller than usual, and as I approached it, it appeared to begin and end in this one field. I stopped my car and got out. As I got closer it became more of a ring shape, beginning and ending not far from my feet. I would have doubted my senses, but another driver stopped his car and got out too. We both stood there saying "Wow, this is amazing."

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Offline MoreCarbonOK

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #42 on: 07/04/2013 17:31:49 »
Me and my wife had a similar experience,
after visiting a prisoner, to explain the gospel to him, who some time later died of AIDS
we were driving  through two rainbows,
as if God was trying to say something to us///...

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Offline ChemE

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #43 on: 01/05/2013 13:12:00 »
All,

I sincerely believe I have discovered what a double rainbow with the dark band is.  It is actually a 1-brane from string theory.  Basically a toroid or closed string of dark energy that is evaporating.  It is pulling a vacuum on the surrounding atmosphere and actually condensing water vapor.  That is why they mostly accompany storms, they are creating it! My research is on my blog:

darkmattersalot.com

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #44 on: 12/05/2013 20:44:48 »
To drive or walk through a 'rainbow' effect, there has to be spray in the immediate vicinity to locally refract the light and maintain the image until you pass the edge of the cone of visibility. As others have said, it's a virtual image.

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Offline dlorde

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #45 on: 12/05/2013 20:55:02 »
I also had a weird rainbow experience. I was driving along and saw a very bright rainbow, smaller than usual, and as I approached it, it appeared to begin and end in this one field. I stopped my car and got out. As I got closer it became more of a ring shape, beginning and ending not far from my feet. I would have doubted my senses, but another driver stopped his car and got out too. We both stood there saying "Wow, this is amazing."

If the sun is behind you and you are above the droplets that are refracting its light, you could see a circular bow - usually from an aircraft, but I suppose it might be possible on a smaller local scale if there is a ground mist, but such local effects from mist or fine ice crystals are more likely to be due to diffraction and are generally given different names, like halos, glories, and coronae.

Or you could see one reflected in water.


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Offline swimmer77

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #46 on: 07/11/2013 13:49:40 »
My perception was - I saw the end of a rainbow - but no pot of gold - which is okay.

I walked out my door this morning at 7:00 and the sun was brightly shimmering off of the leaves. I walk towards the east to my car so I didn't notice what was behind me. As I pulled out and started driving to the west I noticed the "storm like" sky and then I saw it.

One of the most vivid rainbows I had ever seen was right in front of me. And the perceived distance between the "ends" was the shortest I had ever seen. It was not raining as I started out in the first mile and then it started to pour with the bright sun now in my rear view mirror.

At one point I looked to the left into a green grassy field and there it was - the end of a rainbow. I have seen many rainbows but this one will always stand out for me. And it was practically in my backyard.

Described as an illusion I know but I will hold it in my own heart as "seeing the end of a rainbow".

I really need to invest in a good camera to have with me at all times. Nature can be outstandingly beautiful.  :)

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Offline evan_au

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #47 on: 07/11/2013 19:30:39 »
It should be possible to touch the end of a rainbow - you just need to ensure that the rainbow is less than an arm's length from your eye. Do the following:
  • Wait for a bright, sunny day.
  • Create a fan of small water droplets, such as from a fancy garden hose with a selectable spray shape.
  • Stand with your back to the Sun
  • With one hand, hold the hose so the spray fan is rising vertically, 1 foot in front of your face. You should see a rainbow.
  • Close 1 eye (the image of the rainbow is "at infinity"; with binocular vision, the rainbow seems beyond an arm's length )
  • With the other hand, reach out and touch one end of the rainbow.
  • Dry yourself off with a towel.
The trick is that your eye can never reach the end of a rainbow - but your arm can.

« Last Edit: 07/11/2013 19:55:03 by evan_au »

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Offline JFK

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #48 on: 09/10/2014 03:11:19 »
I remember having had a very interesting experience a number of years ago that was similar to JRmooney56's description. It was in New York, late afternoon in the fall, and I had been raking leaves in my yard when I noticed that the end of a rainbow was approaching me from the east. I stopped raking to watch what happened because I had always been under the belief that it was not possible to ever be in the end of a rainbow as it was a type of optical illusion or effect that could not be witnessed first hand. As it came closer, the yellow became brighter and the other colors faded. When it was on top of me, yes on top of me, it was as if a yellow beam of light was shining so brightly on top of me that it was possible to see the sparkles of reflection in the small particulates that were in the air around me. I believe that this effect is the basis for the mythical gold at the end of the rainbow, because they indeed looked like specs of gold. Perhaps it might be interesting rather than to disprove that people can be in the end of rainbows, to consider how this might be possible. I expect that with the increasing prevalence of wearable video technology, that it only a matter of time before this rare weather occurrence will get posted to YouTube.   

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Offline Atomic-S

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Re: Is it possible to reach the end of a rainbow?
« Reply #49 on: 13/10/2014 06:03:10 »
Very interesting that this impossible phenomenon has been seen by so many people.  Exactly what happened in these cases is hard to know without accurate photos, diagrams, etc.; but certain meteorological conditions may be responsible. For one thing, if rain happens to be falling right in front of the car on the  road, and the sun is correctly positioned, that rain could refract colors back to the viewer all the way down to pavement level. If the zone of such rain is rather narrow, which is possible in some storms, the car might pass through it rather quickly, giving the illusion of having driven "through" the rainbow.  As to colors scattered all over the place surrounding the viewer: I don't know if that may be possible due to some unusual combination of circumstances such as, for example, extra-small drop size, but such a situation would not be a normal rainbow.  Extra-small drop size could also account for an "expanding" rainbow, because of diffraction.  This would be a situation where rain was merging into fog.