Circles of Light:

The Mathematics of Rainbows

How are rainbows formed? Why do they only occur when the sun is behind the observer? If the sun is low on the horizon, at what angle in the sky should we expect to see a rainbow?

This lab helps to answer these and other questions by examining a mathematical model of light passing through a water droplet.

Outline [Rainbow]

Next: Objectives of the Lab
This lab is based on a module developed by Steven Janke and published in Modules in Undergraduate Mathematics and its Applications, 1992.

Support for the Curriculum Initiative Project at the University of Minnesota has been provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DUE 9456095) and by the Geometry Center.

Frederick J. Wicklin <fjw@geom.umn.edu>
Paul Edelman <edelman@math.umn.edu>

The Rainbow Lab has been recognized as a quality educational site by the following organizations:

ZIA Reviewed FIDO Site of the Day

Site of the Day: October 7, 1996

Blue Web'n Award

Last modified: Tue Mar 11 15:00:22 1997