# rainbow: distance between the observer and the actual raindrops ?

how would one calculate the distance from the observer to the actual refracting raindrops that participate in making the observed rainbow?

Relevance
• 8 years ago

Radar might work to get a distance, but it would be highly variable since there is no specific distance that makes the rainbow work. You can create one by standing with your back to the sun and spraying a mist of water from a garden hose, so it must be within a few yards of your position. You can also see them from airplanes when you are flying above the right type of cloud cover, and that might be several thousand feet below you.

• Paula
Lv 7
7 years ago

You could assign an average size to the drops.

Then you could calculate the maximum distance that you could resolve the rainbow effect. That would just give a distance range..

Because I don't think you can see very distant rainbows. They are always quite close.

I'm unsure if you can't do it by having 2 people sight to the top of the arch at the same time. The physics of rainbows might tell you something about where is it then. But both people would perceive it to be in a different place. You'd still get some useful info.

• Gary B
Lv 7
7 years ago

your BEST bet would be to use RADAR to measure the distance to the edge of the rain curtain.