19 Colorful Facts About Rainbows You Might Not Know

Published May 5, 2022
Man looking at waterfall in an idyllic landscape and double rainbow

Rainbows are more than just pretty, colorful arches in the sky. They've been part of mythology, science, and art for a long time. Learn a few fun facts about the science and history of rainbows.

Scientific Facts About Rainbows for Kids

When you see a rainbow in the sky, did you know there is a lot of science behind it? Rainbows are actually fascinating scientific phenomena. Discover some truly fantastic scientific facts about rainbows.

Rainbows Form From Water

You know that light travels from the sun to the earth. But did you know that when light hits a rain droplet in the sky, it creates a rainbow? With enough rain droplets, you can see a rainbow lighting up the sky. This is why rainbows often form after a storm.

A Rainbow Has No End

Since rainbows are technically an arch of light, they don't have an end. If you view a rainbow from an airplane in the sky, it looks like a circle of light. From land, you only see half of the rainbow's arch.

You Can't Touch a Rainbow

Since a rainbow is light, you can't touch it. It's kind of like how you can't touch the blue in the sky. It looks pretty, but you can't hold it in your hand.

Earth Is the Only Planet With Rainbows

What do you need to make a rainbow? Light and water, right? Since no other planets are known to have liquid water, earth is the only planet in our solar system with rainbows. How unique is earth?

Hawaii Has the Most Rainbows

If you want to see a rainbow, go to Hawaii. Hawaii is known to have the most and best rainbows on earth. This is due to the sunlight and water that are both plentiful on Hawaii's incredible islands.

A Double Rainbow Is Light Reflected Twice

Double rainbows are magnificent and more common than you think. Light has to reflect twice to create a double rainbow. So, when the sun is low in the sky, you'll see more double rainbows. Another cool fact: the band between the rainbows is called Alexander's band, after Alexander of Aphrodisias.

Double rainbow over rolling landscape

Lunar Rainbow

The sun creates lots of rainbows, but occasionally, the moon does do. It's called a moonbow. A moonbow occurs when the light of the moon is reflected off rain. To have a moonbow, you need a dark night coupled with a bright moon, so they are pretty rare.

Fog Creates Rainbows

Ever seen a white rainbow? You aren't the only one. This is actually a fogbow or a ghost rainbow. A fogbow happens when the sun goes through the fog. It reflects and refracts to create an exciting ghost of a rainbow.

A Rainbow Is Always Unique

A rainbow is the reflection and refraction of light. Your eyes perceive light. So, what a rainbow looks like is different for everyone. The rainbow you see and the one your friend sees are different, because your eyes see them differently.

You Can Make Your Own Rainbow

Rainbows need water droplets and sun. So, you can create a rainbow in your backyard on a sunny day. Stand with the sun behind you and spray the hose in front of you. Watch for the rainbow. It's an easy science experiment to do on a summer day.

Aristotle and the Three Color Rainbow

Rainbows weren't just crucial to scientists. Philosophers talked about them as well. Aristotle had a theory on rainbows as part of his color theory. He thought the colors were related to the four elements. And since Aristotle was so brilliant, his theory was widely believed until Isaac Newton came on the scene.

Isaac Newton's Seven Color System

Isaac Newton loved experiments. During an experiment with prisms, he discovered that a rainbow had several colors in it (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). Since these are the only colors the human eye can see, they are the colors that make up the rainbow.

Prism with spectrum

Rainbow Facts in Mythology and History

Rainbows are fascinating. And not just to scientists. Rainbows have fascinated people, cultures, and religions for thousands of years. Learn some fun history and mythology facts about rainbows.

Greek Rainbow God

The Greeks had a rainbow goddess named Iris. She was an Olympian messenger goddess responsible for the sea and sky. Not surprisingly, her mother was a cloud nymph, so Iris was responsible for controlling the rainbow's arc.

Irish Legend: Pot of Gold

The Greeks weren't the only ones fascinated by rainbows. The Irish were too. You've probably heard of the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. While you'll never find the pot of gold, this Irish myth tells of a farmer and his wife who chased a pot of gold forever.

Four Leaf Shamrock Clover, Rainbow and a Pot of Gold

Norse Rainbow Bridge

You've probably heard of Thor and his life in Asgard. But did you know Norse mythology has a burning rainbow bridge? The Bifröst is the mythical rainbow bridge connecting earth and Asgard. It's how Thor and his friends come to earth. Interesting, huh?

Hinduism Archer's Bow

In Hindu mythology, the rainbow represents Indra's bow. Since Indra is responsible for the weather, the bow of this demigod is the weapon for controlling the weather.

Australian Rainbow Serpent

In Aboriginal mythology, the rainbow has a significant meaning. It represents the Rainbow Snake, the creator of God and earth.

Rainbow As God's Promise

The rainbow is such a unique feature of earth; it has made its way into biblical facts. In the Bible, the rainbow is a promise between God and man. The rainbow is the promise that God will not use water to destroy all life again.

Symbol of Hope in Art

Rainbows have been featured in paintings for centuries. Oftentimes, artists use a rainbow as a symbol of hope.

Fun Facts About Rainbows for Kids

Rainbows have a fascinating history and a lot of science behind them. Now you know a few fun facts you can share with your friends. Wow them with your rainbow knowledge. You can also expand your facts knowledge by learning about grapes, delighting in turkey facts for kids, or discovering cool facts about reindeer.

19 Colorful Facts About Rainbows You Might Not Know