February 07, 2005
Can we see circular rainbows?

Yes, it's entirely possible to see circular rainbows. I took a photo of the phenomenon once (published at extrospection).

Read more about it here: Rainbows and Optical Effects:

The only way to see the full circle of a rainbow in the sky is to be above the raindrops and have the sun behind you. You would have to look down on the drops from an airplane. [...]

Make a [Circular] Rainbow: To see the whole circle, you could make a rainbow with a garden hose. With the sun shining on your back, spray a fine mist of water at an angle below your eyes. Except for the part of the rainbow that is hidden by your shadow, you should beable to see the whole circle.
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I have a picture of a double-ringed circular rainbow... taken from the ground. It was taken in the north of Thailand when there was a trail of ice crystals, I presume, directly in front of the sun. It casted a prominent inner rainbow with a faint outter rainbow. I have a few pictures of it if you're interested.

Michael Dalke

Posted by: Michael Dalke on April 6, 2005 08:44 AM

I disagree that you can only see a circular rainbow from above the clouds. On Sunday, April 10 we were driving north of Toronto, Canada. The sky was generally clear with very whispy clouds in places.

The sun was directly south at noon and was behind a patch of extremely light, whispy clouds. So light in fact that you still couldn't look directly at the sun.

My 9 year old sun noticed the circular rainbow. It was to the best of the eye a perfect circle. I had never seen this phenomena before so pulled the van over and we all got out to look.

It was totally amazing and perfectly clear seen from the ground.

Glen Shevel

Posted by: Glen Shevel on April 11, 2005 01:21 PM

I also disagree, when I was younger, I have seen full circular rainbows from the ground!

Posted by: Alisha on May 18, 2005 01:50 AM

I have seen a very bright double rainbow around the sun, Mufulira,in Zambia, October, the rainy season. I have made a 3d prism to recreate the effect. It makes a 3rd mellium symbol for world peace. Stuart.

Posted by: Stuart Lumsden on June 4, 2005 01:49 PM

Circular rainbows most certainly can be seen from the ground. I saw one about six or seven years ago when I was living in Milan, Italy. I was heading out to the store on foot. I noticed a number of people looking straight up into the sky, so I looked too. And there was a very vivid, absolutely circular rainbow. It was quite amazing, and lasted for about twenty minutes.

Oddly, it wasn't raining, and hadn't been raining. It was late afternoon--around six o'clock--and the sun was low in the sky.

Posted by: Janice Shell on August 13, 2005 09:38 PM

Try googling "rainbow around the sun". (that's how I ended up here after going through serveral pages) They are called "halo's" or "corona's". I saw an awesome one in Dallas 2 days ago. I could barely see a secondary one but the primary was full rainbow colors. Sometimes you see comet shaped ones that are called "sundogs"

Posted by: Stephen Bradley on September 13, 2005 04:37 PM
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