On a chilly autumn morning a sunbow makes an appearance

A sunbow on Roydon Common on Thursday 5th November Credit: Julie Smart

We have all heard of rainbows but have you ever heard of a sunbow?

This morning a few early risers got to view one.

To see a rainbow it must be sunny behind you and raining in front of you. Some of the light is reflected and split, creating an arc of colour from red to violet. But it wasn't raining this morning so what happened?

A sunbow in the east of England on Thursday 5th November Credit: Jenna Bolger

The source of water can be from anything that suspends water vapour in the air so not just rain.

The weather was frosty and foggy this morning and as the sun came up the moisture from the fog and frost evaporated. As the happened it was suspended in the air and a sunbow formed when the rising sun was just at the right angle.

A sunbow on Thursday 5th November in Kings Lynn Credit: Derek Bradley

A 'bow' can form from any light source such as a torch so long as there is some moisture in front of you and a source of light behind you.

One special feature of any bow is that you may be looking at the same bow as someone else but even if they are standing right beside you, each rainbow is in fact completely unique to the person viewing it. 

This is because the light that reaches a person’s eyes will be made from a slightly different array of water droplets.

If you would like to read a little more about rainbow here is the link.