Rainbows: The bridge between the natural and super natural

By Mara Gordon, Play to Learn Facilitator

Did you know that rainbows are an optical illusion? That means that rainbows don’t have a physical form or have a specific location in the sky.

Rainbows happen when light hits water droplets at a 42 angle. This causes the light to experience refraction (also known as redirection) and reflection.

As the light enters a water droplet, it is refracted before getting reflected out. Then, as this reflected light leaves the droplet, it is refracted again, at multiple angle.

Rainbows are actually full circles; We only see them as arcs from the ground due to our perspective. If an astronaut in space saw a rainbow on Earth, they would see a perfect rainbow circle!

Rainbows have a lot of social and cultural significance around the world. Traditionally, rainbows are portrayed as bridges between the natural and the supernatural. In Norse mythology, a rainbow called the Bifrost connects Earth with Asgard, where the gods live.

In the ancient beliefs of Japan and Gabon, rainbows were the bridges that human ancestors took to descend to the planet. One of the most popular stories about rainbows comes from Irish legends that there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow that is guarded by leprechauns.

In more recent history, rainbow flags have become a symbol for the LGBTQ+ community and represents acceptance and the beautiful diversity of nature. Rainbows are an amazing natural phenomenon with strong historical and cultural significance, but they’re also just really beautiful & fun!

Just like people, every rainbow is unique and looks different to every person who sees it. Here at Explore & More, we love rainbows because they help us celebrate all the amazing & different people in the world.

As we get ready to start celebrating spring holidays like St. Patricks’ Day, be on the lookout for rainbows and get ready to experience all the beautiful colors that make up our world!

Explore & More will be closed Sunday, May 26-Tuesday, May 28. We will be open for play again on Wednesday, May 29!