We’ve all made rainbows while playing outside on a warm summer day, when watering plants with a garden hose, or simply hanging crystals in a sunny window. It is a common preschool topic that we have all learned- water and sunshine make rainbows. Rainbows only appear under certain conditions so I like to make my own permanent rainbow magnet from clay so I can see a rainbow everyday.
I loved the day our local meteorologist said, “Showers will redevelop midday and be scattered about through the afternoon. Can’t rule out a rumble of thunder. Between showers a little sun is possible, which means more rainbows into early evening.” It was a RAINBOW forecast, I wondered how she predicted rainbows. I looked up how to predict rainbows and found you can easily hunt for rainbows when you learn the conditions that cause them. See curiosities at bottom of post for more.
Myths and Legends
There are a lot of different myths about rainbows; in the modern America rainbows are considered lucky and if you reach the end of a rainbow a pot of gold can be found. But not all places view the rainbow in the same way. In Honduras and Nicaragua, many believed the rainbow to be a symbol of the devil and would hide until the rainbow disappeared. Similarly at one period of time the Japanese believed rainbows to be bad luck since they resembled a snake. Many cultures tie rainbows to gods, for example, Australian Aboriginals believed the rainbow to be a serpent creator god moving from one waterhole to another.
Nail polish or acrylic paint in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet
Crayola Air Dry Clay or alternative
Strong round magnetic
Step 1: On parchment paper, take the clay and roll it back and forth between your hands until you have created a worm shaped strand. Create seven strands in total, one for each color of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, indigo, and violet (Roy G. Biv). Put the rainbow strands together before painting, I found this the easiest way to shape the arches and make them the correct length.
Step 2: Starting with the outside arch immediately coat each strand with nail polish. Paint one red and then another orange, connect them in an arch shape to begin reforming your rainbow. Remove another arch from the unpainted rainbow and paint it yellow. Attach it the red and orange arches; continue this pattern until you have a rainbow formed.
Step 3: Even out the end of the rainbow by cutting it with a knife. Let your Rainbow air dry for a few days.
Step 4: After the rainbow has dried hot glue a strong magnet onto the backside of the rainbow. Now your rainbow is done!
How to spot a rainbow?
1.Rainbows can most commonly be found during receding rainstorms, on the very edge of the storm and clearing sunny skies follow. Too many clouds will block sunlight.
2.You can see a rainbow when the sun is behind you and water droplets are floating in the air (common after rain).
3. Rainbows can only be seen at times when the sun is 42 degrees above the horizon or lower. If the sun is 42 degrees or higher above the horizon you won’t be able to see a rainbow because it would be below the horizon.
What makes a rainbow?
When sunlight shines on a water droplet it creates a rainbow. This is because as light enters the raindrop, the light bends, or refracts. The refraction occurs because light travels slower in water than in air. After refraction occurs the light bounces off the back of the raindrop and goes back out, bending once again as it speeds up and exits the water droplet.
Why do you see the colors of a rainbow?
You see colors because sunlight is made up of many different wavelengths (colors of light). Different wavelengths bend more than others, as light enters the water droplet- for example violet (the shortest wavelength of visible light) bends the most and red (the longest wavelength of visible light) bends the least. When light enters the raindrop it is separated into all of its wavelengths and reflects back as a rainbow to the person observing the rainbow.