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Real Quadruple Rainbow

by Laura Overdeck

Have you ever seen a real rainbow? Maybe a little one on the wall from sun shining through angled glass, or a giant one in the sky (which you find by standing with your back to the sun, then looking forward 40 degrees to your left and right). A single rainbow has stripes of all the colors — red, orange, all the way to violet — but sometimes it’s stacked under another backwards rainbow that runs from violet to red. That’s called a double rainbow, and it’s very special because it’s so rare. That’s why people love this photo of two double rainbows. Amanda Curtis saw it over a train station in Long Island and quickly snapped a picture. No one is sure how the sun made these shapes, but we’re lucky the camera caught it before they disappeared.

Wee ones: A rainbow has red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Try to find 1 thing in your room of each color. How many things did you find in total?

Little kids: Some say the rainbow has 1 more color than the above: “indigo” (between blue and purple). How many colors does that rainbow have? Bonus: You can take any 2 of the “primary” colors — red, yellow and blue — and mix them to make a “secondary” color (like orange, which mixes red and yellow). How many different pairs of primary colors can you choose to mix?

Big kids: If you could see 7 sharp stripes in each of the 4 rainbows here, how many colored stripes would you see in total? Bonus: Rainbows in the sky usually don’t last long. If the rainbow appeared at 6:58 pm and lasted just 5 minutes, when did it disappear?

 

 

Answers:
Wee ones: 6 things, if you find one of each of those colors. Items might include socks, Lego blocks, other toys, and book covers.

Little kids: 7 colors. Bonus: 3 pairs: red+yellow, yellow+blue, and red+blue. Those give you orange, green and purple — the other 3 colors in the 6-color rainbow!

Big kids: 28 stripes. Bonus: At 7:03 pm.

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