12-year-old photographer gets photo of rare 'reflection' rainbow

Photo of doubel rainbow plus a reflection rainbow as seen from Burlington, Wash. on June 16, 2018 (Photo: Aria Thomas)

BURLINGTON, Wash. -- During the spring showers, rainbows are rather easy to spot. Even double rainbows.

But triple rainbows? They're rare indeed.

So 12-year-old Aria Thomas was quite proud when she got a good shot of three rainbows in the same photo!

The third, vertical rainbow in this instance is called a "reflection" rainbow, caused by a "second sun", per se.

It's hard to see in the photo, but Aria's mom tells me the photograph was taken in Burlington looking east, and the Skagit River is in the distance toward the horizon.

The sun was glinting off the river and its reflection was making a new, vertically-aligned rainbow to the traditional rainbow generated from the sun located at its usual spot 93 some odd million miles away. So it's essentially three rainbows from two "suns." Great find, Aria!

MORE | Reflection Rainbows via Atmospheric Optics Site

It's different than the very elusive triple rainbow caused by the single source of sunlight.

Those third and fourth rainbows actually form in a halo around the sun itself and are usually quite faint. Thus, these are incredible difficult to spot and photograph, although it's been a bit easier with advances in camera technology (and awareness to look for them!)

Learn more about these type of rainbows at the Atmospheric Optics site.

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