A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
“Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray” – Lord Byron
I have to confess that I thought many times over whether I should blog about this topic. But in the end I decided that maybe I should give it a shot and blog about it. This blog post is not about any of the places which I visited or events I attended. Instead it is about a purely personal experience.
It might come as a surprise to many, but in all of my 25 years I never got a chance to see a rainbow. Most of the times it happened I was nowhere near the vicinity of the rainbow or was safely tucked indoors isolated from the whole world. But as they say, perhaps the best things happen to those wait the most!
About a week back when I was in Brussels, I was about to go for having my lunch when all of a sudden there was a hailstorm which presented itself. Despite being hit previously with sizeable hailstorms, this one was particularly ruthless as I was pelted black and blue. This left a bad taste in my mouth as well. This first hailstorm was followed by an even rougher hailstorm.
As I was back indoors cursing my luck I saw a beautiful, no majestic sight outside the large windows of my room. It was not one but two rainbows which spanned the horizon that appeared in front of me. Although it lasted for a mere 20 seconds it was truly a sight to behold. A sight which proved that Mother Nature is capable of wonders which are beyond our thoughts.
After doing some extra reading about this phenomenon I found out that a Double rainbow is formed only rarely. The first rainbow which is formed is called as the Primary rainbow, this is the brighter one. This rainbow is only requires the light to reflect off of the raindrop once before refracting out of the raindrop. In the case of a Secondary rainbow the refracted light does not escape the raindrop after being reflected the first time. Instead, the refracted light reflects off the raindrop’s surface a second time as well, producing a secondary rainbow with its colors reversed compared to the primary rainbow since fewer light rays are available to undergo the additional refraction process, so the resulting secondary rainbow appears less vivid.
Secondary rainbows are also apparently considered as auspicious in many cultures. In the Chinese culture red is symbolic of the feet and violet represents the head. So a primary rainbow can be seen to illustrate a human descending from heaven. As stated before, the secondary arc in a Double rainbow has reversed colours so, since the red is on the bottom and violet is on top, the human figure is ascending from the material earth to the spiritual heaven. Therefore seeing a Double rainbow is considered a very auspicious occasion and a reason for reflection and meditation.
However what stands out above everything else is that this is a spectacular light show, which is assured to leave you open-mouthed!