Nature’s Way: Raindrops and Rainbows at SaddleBrooke Ranch
Noah may have been the first person to see a rainbow, but for those of us who live at SaddleBrooke Ranch, we are fortunate to see many rainbows, especially during the monsoon season. We even see some double rainbows at SaddleBrooke Ranch! Rainbows are optical illusions, dependent on the location of the observer. For a rainbow to be visible, the sun must be no more than 42 degrees above the horizon; it must be behind the observer; and there must be water droplets in the atmosphere in front of the observer from rain, fog, or spray from a source like a waterfall. The way rainbows are formed is quite fascinating.
It's in the Water Droplets
The magic occurs inside the water droplets. Think back to high school physics lab when light passed through a prism to create a spectrum of rainbow colors. Water droplets act like miniature prisms. Our eyes perceive sunlight, a mixture of colors of different wavelengths, as white light. When atmospheric conditions are right, sunlight passes into water droplets and is dispersed into its constituent wavelengths, which are then reflected out of the droplets.
Each color wavelength refracts (or bends) differently upon entering the denser water droplet. This separation of light creates a band of colors. Then, the dispersed light reflects off the back of the droplet and refracted again as it exits the droplet. This process happens in millions of droplets simultaneously, producing the rainbows we see. Red, with the longest wavelength, bends the least, while violet, with the shortest wavelength, bends the most. Consequently, red appears at the top of a rainbow, and violet appears at the bottom. Colors of intermediate wavelengths fill the space between them. In the case of a double rainbow, sunlight reflects twice within each water droplet. This secondary rainbow forms above the primary rainbow, is fainter, and bands of color are reversed.
Rainbows and more Rainbows
Although I’ve seen many beautiful rainbows during the two years Claire and I have lived at SBR, including double rainbows, I think the most beautiful rainbow I’ve ever seen was in Waimea Canyon, on the Island of Kauai. (Of course, Claire and I were on our honeymoon, so that may have influenced my perception.) On a subsequent anniversary trip to Maui, we saw a fog rainbow. It was white, with just a tinge of red. Sunlight passed through the very small fog droplets. I also remember seeing a stunning rainbow in the spray of Bridalveil Fall one afternoon in Yosemite National Park several years ago. I’ve never seen a moonbow. However, a bright moon can also cause a rainbow. It looks almost white to the naked eye but can be captured in full color in a long-exposure photograph.
When monsoonal raindrops start “fallin’ on your heads” later this year, be sure and look for a beautiful rainbow in the sky. I can’t promise any pots of gold, but rainbows are undoubtedly one of nature’s true marvels and should not be missed.
by Gerald Tietje
About SaddleBrooke Ranch
Surrounded by breathtaking mountain views and high Sonoran desert terrain, SaddleBrooke Ranch, a 55+ master-planned community, is located just north of Tucson, Arizona. In this idyllic setting, SaddleBrooke Ranch offers a quiet sanctuary from the hectic pace of life. Beautiful mountain vistas, from almost every direction, provide a dramatic backdrop to resort-style amenities and distinctive homes. Contact us today to learn more about the resort lifestyle and new homes for sale in this vibrant active adult community.