OPOD 5+ bows at Loch Rannoch

OPOD 5+ Bows at Loch Rannoch: A Spectacular Atmospheric Optics Phenomenon

Rainbows have always fascinated us with their vibrant colors and ethereal beauty. But have you ever heard of a sighting that goes beyond the ordinary? Anne Connolly experienced just that at Loch Rannoch, Scotland, on September 21st, 2010. She witnessed the rare occurrence of not just one or two rainbows, but an astonishing display of five or more rainbows gracing the sky. This extraordinary event captivated her and left her in awe of the wonders of atmospheric optics.

The primary rainbow, which forms when sunlight is refracted and reflected inside raindrops, is a familiar sight to many. However, what Anne Connolly observed at Loch Rannoch went far beyond the usual. The Scottish Saltire-like cross that she witnessed was composed of an "ordinary" primary rainbow and three additional bows created by one or two reflections from the loch. Moreover, hints of an encore by the secondary bow could be seen beyond them to the right. This sighting was truly a feast for the eyes.

The magic behind this mesmerizing spectacle lies in the interplay of sun rays, raindrop spheres opposite the sun, a mirror-smooth loch, and multiple reflections of light. When sunlight enters a raindrop and undergoes a single reflection, it forms the primary bow. However, in this case, the reflection of sunlight by the loch added an extra bow curving outwards. Essentially, the loch acted as a second sun, shining upwards and giving rise to another primary bow around a new center known as the anthelic point.

It's important to note that the lower bows observed at Loch Rannoch were not mere reflections of those in the sky. Rainbows are not tangible objects that can be mirrored unless we consider them to be infinitely far away for our own convenience. In this extraordinary display, one of the bows resulted from light that had already passed through raindrops and was then reflected upwards by the loch. The rays forming the second "reflected-reflection" bow followed a convoluted path, being reflected first by the loch, then inside the raindrops, and finally again by the loch.

The phenomenon witnessed by Anne Connolly at Loch Rannoch is a rare and captivating example of atmospheric optics. It highlights the intricate dance between sunlight, raindrops, and reflections that give rise to the mesmerizing beauty of rainbows. While primary rainbows are a common sight, the presence of multiple bows adds an extra layer of complexity and enchantment to the scene.

This extraordinary sighting serves as a reminder of the infinite possibilities and surprises that nature has in store for us. It encourages us to look beyond the ordinary and appreciate the intricate workings of the world around us. The Loch Rannoch incident showcases the beauty of atmospheric optics and ignites our curiosity about the hidden wonders that may unfold in the skies above.

So, next time you find yourself gazing at a rainbow, take a moment to marvel at its magnificence. Who knows what extraordinary atmospheric optics phenomenon may be waiting to reveal itself, just like the OPOD 5+ bows at Loch Rannoch did for Anne Connolly on that unforgettable day in Scotland. Let's embrace the magic of the natural world and keep our eyes open for the unexpected.

A rare sighting of 5+ rainbows by Anne Connolly at Loch Rannoch, Scotland on 21st September '10. The Scottish Saltire like cross is composed of an �ordinary� primary rainbow plus three extras fashioned by one or two reflections from the loch. Beyond them to the right are hints of an encore by the secondary bow. ©Anne Connolly, shown with permission.

Sun rays, raindrop spheres opposite the sun, a mirror smooth loch and light several times reflected are the ingredients of this sighting.

In her devices

a straight line

and a yawning sphere

dance out and in

ad infinitum. Anne Connolly

Light reflected just once inside the raindrops forms the primary bow. Sunlight first reflected by the loch gives the extra bow curving outwards. The loch reflection in effect forms a second sun shining upwards and giving another primary around a new centre, the anthelic point.

The lower bows are not simple reflections of those in the sky for rainbows are not corporeal objects that can be mirrored unless for our own mental convenience we consider them as out at infinity. One bow is from light that has already been through raindrops and then reflected upwards by the loch. Rays forming the second �reflected-reflection� bow had a tortuous journey reflected first by the loch, reflected inside the raindrops and reflected yet again by the loch.

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Reference Atmospheric Optics

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  • "OPOD 5+ bows at Loch Rannoch". Atmospheric Optics. Accessed on May 19, 2024. https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/opod-5-bows-at-loch-rannoch/.

  • "OPOD 5+ bows at Loch Rannoch". Atmospheric Optics, https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/opod-5-bows-at-loch-rannoch/. Accessed 19 May, 2024

  • OPOD 5+ bows at Loch Rannoch. Atmospheric Optics. Retrieved from https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/opod-5-bows-at-loch-rannoch/.