How Many Colors Are In a Rainbow?

JAN EIFERT/dpa/AFP via Getty Images

How Many Colors Are In a Rainbow?

Red, orange and yellow. Blue, green and purple too.
How Many Colors Are In a Rainbow?

JAN EIFERT/dpa/AFP via Getty Images

Whether it's a rainy season downpour or a brief summer storm, if we are lucky, after rain comes a rainbow. But do you know how many colors are actually in this amazing natural phenomena?

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Rainbows are made of sunlight spread out into a spectrum of colors and diverted to the human eye by water droplets. Light is first refracted as it enters the water droplet, then reflected off the back of the droplet. The light bends a second time as it exits the droplet at many different wavelengths.

Nursery rhymes and children’s programs taught us the colors of the rainbow go: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. However, while those colors may be the easiest for humans to see, a rainbow contains loads more. In fact, there are more colors in a rainbow than atoms in our bodies or stars in the sky. All sorts of in-between wavelength shades exist among the familiar primary colors. 

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Rainbows can crop up at night too, illuminated by full moonlight and fainter than usual. Rainbows also come in more than doubles, sometimes appearing three or four at a time. These cool rainbow facts are part of some weather myths to stop believing