Scattering: Raindrops

About scattering in raindrops

Here are three related descriptions of what causes scattering when visible light strikes a raindrop:

  • When light of a specific wavelength strikes the surface and enters a raindrop its subsequent path depends upon the point of impact, and the refractive indices of water and air.
  • When rays of light of a single wavelength strike a raindrop at different points, scattering is primarily determined by the angles at which they enter the droplet.
  • The interaction between refraction and chromatic dispersion gives rise to the appearance of rainbow colours when parallel white light rays strike various points on the surface of a raindrop.