6A46.30 - Raindrop and Rainbow

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Raindrop and Rainbow
Dispersion of Light by Atmospheric Particles
Area of Study:
Optics, Astronomy
Black Dropcloth, Lucite Raindrop, Laser, and Pinhole White Light Source.

See also 6A46.30 in Optics.

Assemble the demo as shown.  At about the angle shown the raindrop will have internal reflection so that the laser light or the rainbow will appear on the ceiling above the lights sources.  For enhanced colors use a piece of tin foil or Aluminum tape on the side of the raindrop opposite the light source.

  • Erin Ubertelli and David Shane, "Ground Rainbow", TPT, Vol. 57, #8, Nov. 2019, p. 576.
  • Mark Welter, "Another Rainbow Demonstration with a Glass Sphere", TPT, Vol. 57, #5, May 2019, p. 344.
  • Archibald W. Hendry, "A Triple Rainbow?", TPT Vol. 41, #8, Nov. 2003, p. 460.
  • Mikolaj Sawicki and Pawel Sawicki, "Supernumerary Rainbows", TPT, Vol. 38, #1, Jan. 2000, p. 19.
  • John C. Eliason Jr., "Dispersion in Spherical Water Drops", TPT, Vol. 27, #4, Apr. 1989, p. 264.
  • M. Eugene Rudd, "The Rainbow and the Achromatic Telescope: Two Case Studies", TPT, Vol. 26, #2, Feb. 1988, p. 82.
  • Giovanni Casini and Antonio Cavello, "The 'Rainbow' in the Drop", AJP, Vol. 80, #11, Nov. 2012, p. 1027.
  • Harold A. Daw, "A 360 Degree Rainbow Demonstration", AJP, 58, #6, June 1990, p. 593.
  • Frank S. Crawford, "Rainbow Dust", AJP, Vol. 56, #11, Nov. 1988, p. 1006.
  • E. Blaise Saccocio, "Somewhere Under the Rainbow", Physics Today, Vol. 57, #3, Mar. 2004, p. 16.
  • Mikolaj "Mik" Sawicki, "Somewhere Under the Rainbow", Physics Today, Vol. 57, #3, Mar. 2004, p. 16.
  • Chuck Adler, "Somewhere Under the Rainbow", Physics Today, Vol. 57, #3, Mar. 2004, p. 15.
  • E. Blaise Saccocio, "Inteference in a Double Rainbow", Physics Today, Vol. 56, #11, Nov. 2003, p. 10.
  • Jearl Walker, "The Amateur Scientist: Mysteries of Rainbows, Notably Their Rare Supernumerary Arcs", Scientific American, Vol. 242, #6, June 1980, p. 174.
  • Jearl Walker, "The Amateur Scientist: How to Create and Observe a Dozen Rainbows in a Single Drop of Water", Scientific American, Vol. 237, #1, July 1977, p. 138.
  • Dick Berg, "Glass Bead Rainbows", PIRA News, Vol. 9, #2, Nov. 1994, p. 14.
  • Pat Murphy, Ellen Macaulay, and the Staff of the Exploratorium, "Garden-Hose Rainbows", Exploratopia, p. 306 - 309.
  • H. J. Press, "209. Colored Hoop", Giant Book of Science Experiments, p. 223.
  • "Laser Quest", Metrologic Instruments Inc., 1986.
  • Readers Digest, "Light Shows in the Sky", Facts and Fallacies, p. 28 - 29.
  • Ron Hipschman, "The Colors of Light: A Sun of Many Colors", Exploratorium Cookbook III, p. viii - xvi.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.