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WEATHER UNIVERSITY: Rainbows are a trick of the light

Brian Hay captured this rainbow over Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal, N.S, with his camera - but you can't catch a rainbow with your hand.
Brian Hay captured this rainbow over Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal, N.S, with his camera - but you can't catch a rainbow with your hand. -Contributed

The sky is Mother Nature’s canvas and, while she does some amazing work with clouds of all shapes and sizes, I think her most stunning work of art is the elusive rainbow.

While I was on vacation, Anne Beaver called with a question about rainbows. Anne said a while ago, she saw a rainbow touch the ground on the Grand Falls road in Richmond County, N.S.  You were lucky Anne - that’s something not many of us get to see!

A rainbow is really a trick of the light and has no physical properties. The water drops that cause the light to show up as a rainbow can come down and touch the ground, so a rainbow can look like it too is touching the ground.

Had Anne reached out and tried to touch the rainbow, she would have quickly realized that it’s quite impossible. The rainbow moves as you and your eyes move, so you can never get to the rainbow, but it may appear to someone else that you have reached the end of the rainbow.

Remember, the next time it’s raining while the sun is out, turn your back to the sun and the rainbow should be right in front of you!

If you get a chance, snap a photo and send it to Weathermail@WeatherbyDay.ca

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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