Geometric raindrop

In idealised terms, a raindrop is often represented as a geometrically perfect sphere. This simplification aids in comprehending the physics of rainbows, even though real-life raindrops seldom maintain such perfect spherical forms.

  • The understanding derived from studying the idealised geometry of raindrops can be applied to every rainbow despite the fact that:
    • The shape of a raindrop is highly variable and depends on factors including size, speed of descent, and turbulence.
    • Each rainbow observed in our daily life and the arrangement of droplets within it is unique due both to chance and to a wide range of environmental factors.
    • By way of summary, the form of a rainbow and the arrangement of raindrops within it depends on a variety of unique and changing conditions. These include the size, shape, and arrangement of the raindrops that make up the rainbow, as well as the position of the sun, the observer’s location, the clarity and composition of the atmosphere, and the presence of any other light sources or reflective surfaces. So, each rainbow that we observe is unique, shaped by both random variations and a wide array of environmental factors.
  • The idea of light rays is also a way to simplify the way we think about the behaviour of light as it approaches, passes through and exits raindrops towards an observer.
    • In reality, the notion of light rays does not describe an inherent physical property of light; rather, it’s a simplification for illustrative purposes.
    • More precise descriptions of light refer to it as composed of particles called photons, or as exhibiting wave-like properties.