Have you ever seen a full rainbow? Not the usual arc,
or a semi circle but a full circle
the full 360°s.
It was in September,
way back in the when; at the Khecheopelri Lake in Western Sikkim.
A large blob of peaceful water, clearer than crystal,
6000 and some feet high
in the middle of the Himalayan nowhere;
yet to be discovered by the ramblers and trekkers.
We had stopped to set up camp,
on the eastern side of the mountain
looking towards the east over a deep valley
onto Yoksum, on the next range of mountains.
It had rained off and on the whole day.
as we stopped, the clouds parted
and the rays of the setting sun hit the mist and the drizzle
lighting up this huge circle of bands of glistening colours,
the upper half of which stretched way up into the sky,
the bottom sat in the natural cradle of the valley.
It had no ends,
no pots of gold waiting to be found,
what we saw was priceless in itself.
Cameras popped open,
but no lens was wide enough
to capture the rainbow in its entirety.
Like a switch flicked on it had appeared,
but it gracefully faded, as the clouds closed in.
Since then I have tried to share with friends and family what we had seen,
to convey that feeling of awe and wonder of seeing a full rainbow circle.
I don’t think they even believed me, I had no evidence.
Till today, when I came upon this photograph.
(It is nothing like the real thing, its just to give an idea.)
[Photograph courtesy: www.whiteplanes.com]
Since then I have long lost touch with my many friends
so let me share this photograph with you, here.
if you have never seen a rainbow circle…
Way back in 1837,
Rene Descartes had written an explanation of rainbows based on refraction and optics.
accompanied by an illustration in descours de la methode:
We can see a rainbow formed by the sun’s rays being refracted back to us by water droplets in the atmosphere.
Imagine a person standing on flat ground and viewing a rainbow.
The rainbow will be half a circle; the two ends disappearing where it meets the horizon.
But if we then move him to an hypothetical cliff edge,
where his field of vision is no longer restricted by the ground surface,
the sun’s rays now reaches the depth of the valley and can refract back from the water droplets below the persons’ ground level.
The ends of his rainbow becomes free, to dip into the valley below – joining up to form a full circle – a rain circle.