The 360-degree Rainbow

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:18 PM GMT on April 14, 2005

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Most people don't realize it, but a rainbow is actually a full circle. You usually can't see the full circle, since half of the rainbow lies beneath the horizon, where it is not raining. After all, there is no weather underground. However, if one is in an airplane or overlooking a waterfall, the 360-degree rainbow can be seen. I know--I have seen them twice from research airplanes that were flying through rain showers. Check out the 360-degree rainbow image at the bottom. Note that there is a separate optical phenomena, called a glory (caused by diffraction), surrounding the shadow of the airplane. Unfortunately, I only had a 23mm wide angle lens, and could not capture the entire 360-degree rainbow. To my knowledge, no one has captured a photograph of a full NATURAL 360-degree rainbow. You can easily photograph one using a sprinkler, as this photographer has done here.

I challenge all you wunderphotographers to capture a 360-degree rainbow image in rain or waterfall mist. First photographer to post such a natural 360-degree rainbow image wins a free 2-year wunderground.com membership!

Update: In 2013, a photographer on a helicopter in Australia captured a beautiful picture of a 360-degree rainbow, posted at NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day website.

Jeff Masters

360-degree rainbow (JeffMasters)
A rainbow is not a half-circle, but a full circle, as this photo taken from NOAA's P-3 Orion weather reseach aircraft demonstrates. A rain shower beneath the aircraft allowed me to see the entire circle of the rainbow, although the 23-mm wide angle lens was not quite wide enough to capture the entire circle.
360-degree rainbow

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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211. BaltimoreBrian
11:55 PM GMT on March 18, 2017
Lighthouse rainbow, Polonsky manuscript from Poland, before 1200 AD.

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210. Hurricane4Lex
5:20 PM GMT on January 09, 2017
https://youtu.be/OQSNhk5ICTI

Might as well.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
209. LargoFl
4:58 PM GMT on January 09, 2017
hmmm any posts for 1-9-2017??
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207. aquak9
10:44 PM GMT on January 08, 2017
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206. ChiThom
3:40 PM GMT on January 08, 2017
Until we meet again. Au revoir!
Je reviendrai sur l'avenir!
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205. ChiThom
3:38 PM GMT on January 08, 2017
While I'm here, Sofia BU 9°F ...Moscow RS -8° F ... London UK 48° F light rain, ... Barcelona SP 54° clear ...etc. ...
C'est la Tour du Monde j'ai peur
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204. ChiThom
3:27 PM GMT on January 08, 2017
While I'm here,
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203. ChiThom
3:20 PM GMT on January 08, 2017
at least my posts are accepted here! as in...e.g. ...not disappeared
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202. ChiThom
3:18 PM GMT on January 08, 2017
will I get banned for claiming "first" ?
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201. ChiThom
3:16 PM GMT on January 08, 2017
first! 1-8-17
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200. Patrap
1:46 AM GMT on January 08, 2017
Where are we now Ken?
You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.




Atmospheric CO2

December 2016

404.48 parts per million (ppm)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
199. ycd0108
11:14 PM GMT on January 07, 2017
It's interesting to find your post back here in the past Patrap:
I assume you also posted it in the future.
if I can just get to the present I'll read the rest of it.
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198. Patrap
10:28 PM GMT on January 07, 2017
Hey 2005, this happened, mmmmm,...but in real life, not the Movies.

Trump,Putin,and the Big Hack


By David Remnick January 6, 2017

Vyacheslav Molotov, Stalin’s foreign minister, once remarked while on a trip to Berlin in the early days of the Cold War, “The trouble with free elections is that you never know how they will turn out.”

On the morning of November 9th, Molotov’s grandson, Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the Russian Duma’s foreign-affairs committee, announced to the parliament, “Three minutes ago, Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in the American Presidential elections. And just this second Donald Trump began his speech as President-elect.” The Duma members cheered and applauded.

In the days to come, there were more declarations of acid satisfaction among the Russian élite. Dmitri Kiselyov, the host of “News of the Week,” a popular current-affairs show on state-controlled television, gloated over Trump’s victory and Barack Obama’s inability to prevent it. Obama, he said, was a “eunuch.” Trump was an “alpha male”—and one who showed mercy to his vanquished rival. “Trump could have put the blonde in prison, as he’d threatened in the televised debates,” Kiselyov said on his show. “On the other hand, it’s nothing new. Trump has left blond women satisfied all his life.” Kiselyov further praised Trump because the concepts of democracy and human rights “are not in his lexicon.” In India, Turkey, Europe, and now the United States, he declared, “the liberal idea is in ruins.”

Vladimir Putin did not showboat, but he, too, made his satisfaction plain. His spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, told reporters that the similarity between Trump and Putin’s “conceptual approach to foreign policy” was “phenomenal.” Trump’s victory was the basis for Russia’s “moderate optimism”; now both sides could discuss how “to clear out the Augean stables in our bilateral relations.”

All of this is all the more alarming to recall now, in the light of the latest news: according to U.S. intelligence reports, Putin “ordered an influence campaign” to undermine Clinton and work with “a clear preference” to enhance Trump’s prospects.

A classified version of this intelligence has now been delivered to both the President and the President-elect. Briefed in New York on Friday by the heads of the C.I.A., F.B.I., and N.S.A., Trump, who earlier in the day called the focus on Russian hacking “a political witch hunt,” finally allowed, if obliquely, that the Russians—and not the Chinese, not “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs four hundred pounds”—might have hacked the e-mail accounts of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. A declassified report concluded that Putin ordered a campaign of covert operations, from defamatory “fake news” articles about Clinton to the hack itself. Even as Trump seemed to shift his view of the source of the D.N.C. hack, he did not concede that the operation had helped his campaign. The declassified report, however, said that the C.I.A., F.B.I., and N.S.A. had uniformly “high confidence” that Putin ordered the operation in order to “undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”

The N.S.A. had only “moderate confidence” on some details, while the C.I.A. and F.B.I. had “high confidence.” The differences, while vague, seem to be over the degree of Putin’s personal role. The declassified version of the report was unrevealing about how the agencies had come to their conclusions or collected their information.

One should continue to demand even more information from the U.S. government, and one can readily concede that Trump won his Electoral College victory for a variety of reasons, including the disaffection of the white working class in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio; the F.B.I. director’s two letters, late in the campaign, about Clinton’s e-mail server; and Clinton’s deficiencies and tactical errors as a candidate.

And yet how is it possible, if these intelligence reports are true, to count the 2016 Presidential election as unsullied? We are two weeks away from Trump’s Inauguration, and American intelligence agencies, flawed as they are, have declared, publicly and clearly, that they have convincing evidence that Russia, at its President’s direction, interfered in a Presidential election. Congress clearly has a job to do, but it is not alone.

No matter how much it may offend Trump’s ego or his sense of self-possession, it will be his responsibility, his duty as President, to order the agencies at his command to dig even deeper, to provide as full a reckoning as possible. Will he resist Congress on this issue? Is he capable of questioning, in a sense, his own election? If he decides to refuse this duty, to just “move on,” as he likes to say, one will have to ask why.


Putin’s resentment of Clinton was always manifest; it is almost as severe as Trump’s. Putin saw the Clinton Administration of the nineties as having taken advantage of Russian weakness after the fall of the Soviet Union, twenty-five years ago. He viewed Hillary Clinton as a foreign-policy hawk who wanted regime change from Baghdad to Kiev to Moscow. In 2011, Putin, who lives in fear of spontaneous uprisings, events like the Arab Spring and the “color revolutions” in Ukraine and Georgia, accused Clinton of giving “a signal” to urge thousands of Russians to come out on the streets of Moscow to protest parliamentary-election “irregularities” and Putin’s intention to return once more to the Kremlin as President.

In the past few weeks, I’ve had conversations with Russian political experts, and all of them agreed that Putin was certainly pleased, at least initially, with Trump’s victory—and that satisfaction is reflected, too, on countless news and talk shows on television. These analysts added that Putin is undoubtedly cheered that Rex Tillerson, Trump’s appointment to head the State Department, was likely to leave behind American “sanctimony” about human rights and democracy and, following the pattern of his career at ExxonMobil, to concentrate on purely “transactional politics.” Some, however, wondered if Putin will remain enchanted with Trump once he encounters Trump’s inconsistencies, his alarming penchant for surprise pronouncements via Twitter.

Like many nationalist politicians in Europe, Trump has made plain his admiration for Putin, complimenting the Russian leader’s “great control over his country,” while at the same time failing to address the reality that Putin’s regime has instituted wholesale censorship of television, increased repressive measures on ordinary citizens, and unleashed his forces in Ukraine and Syria. (Putin, of course, discounts criticism of his policies as Western hypocrisy and points to everything from the invasion of Iraq, which he opposed, to the eastward expansion of nato, which he sees as an aggressive act.)

Trump’s argument throughout the campaign, the reason for his compliments for Putin, he has said, is related to his stated desire to ease tensions between Russia and the United States and avoid the ultimate disaster, a nuclear confrontation. But what concerns many seasoned American analysts, politicians, and diplomats is that Trump is deluding himself about Putin’s intentions and refuses to see the nature of Russia’s nationalist, autocratic regime clearly. Trump has spoken critically of nato and in support of European nationalist initiatives like Brexit to such a degree that, according to one Obama Administration official, “our allies are absolutely terrified and completely bewildered.”

Strobe Talbott, who was Bill Clinton’s closest adviser on Russia, told me recently that the hack of the D.N.C. and Putin’s other moves in Europe—including the annexation of Crimea, the Russian military presence in eastern Ukraine, and the financial support of nationalists like Marine Le Pen, of France—were part of a larger strategy intended to weaken the E.U. and nato.

“I try to be careful about superlatives,” Talbott said, “but I cannot think, going back to the Soviet Union or since, that there’s been a Moscow-Kremlin-instigated gambit that was so spectacularly successful as what they have done with our democracy. All of those assets that they tried to use on us over the years were far less by comparison; this was like winning seventeen jackpots all at once.”


David Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker since 1998 and a staff writer since 1992. More
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
197. aquak9
4:32 PM GMT on January 07, 2017
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196. CybrTeddy
5:22 AM GMT on January 07, 2017
This blog post is older than some of our users probably.
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195. aquak9
5:16 AM GMT on January 07, 2017
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194. aquak9
2:33 AM GMT on January 07, 2017
Quoting 193. TheBigBanana:

I wonder what would happen if Dr. Masters deleted this entry. With no entry zero, would we stay at the current entry or just get flung back to entry #1?

We'd get flung back to this entry, but it would say "this entry has been removed" -
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193. TheBigBanana
12:23 AM GMT on January 07, 2017
I wonder what would happen if Dr. Masters deleted this entry. With no entry zero, would we stay at the current entry or just get flung back to entry #1?
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192. PensacolaDoug
10:43 PM GMT on January 06, 2017
Thunder and lightning at 39.4 degrees down on da Bayou Grande. I've never seen lightning at this temp before!
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191. PensacolaDoug
10:41 PM GMT on January 06, 2017
It's still kinda funny.
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190. JRnOldsmar
7:00 PM GMT on January 06, 2017
Quoting 189. Patrap:

One day, this blog is gonna end'




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189. Patrap
6:24 PM GMT on January 06, 2017
One day, this blog is gonna end'

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188. SuzK
5:41 PM GMT on January 06, 2017
Quoting 53. islander101010:

terry and i drove into the pot of gold once here in e.cen florida. colors illuminated inside the car! amazing. once in a lifetime


My husband and I drove under the arch of a rainbow that disappeared into the rock wall along I-80 in Utah, coming over the pass. It was 2010 I think, we were eastbound and the wall was on the westbound side. You could see it more than 180 degrees but it went through the wall and I watched us drive under it. So bizarre. It felt like good luck. The rainbow that is my profile picture was from intense rainbows in the Black Rock desert of Nevada a week earlier.
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187. Greg01
4:59 PM GMT on January 06, 2017
Greetings fellow time travelers...
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186. VAbeachhurricanes
3:37 PM GMT on January 06, 2017
NAM still increasing the totals as we approach, love.


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185. aquak9
2:42 PM GMT on January 06, 2017
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184. RTLSNK
1:29 PM GMT on January 06, 2017
This was funny at first, now it's just sad.
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183. RTLSNK
4:16 AM GMT on January 06, 2017
I've been going back and forth through time so much lately I'm beginning
to get motion sickness. I better leave myself a note to take some Dramamine
before I get on the Doc's blog in January of 2017. I'll leave some here too for
the rest of you. heh heh heh
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182. 999Ai2016
1:46 AM GMT on January 06, 2017

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181. BaltimoreBrian
12:54 AM GMT on January 06, 2017
My mood blogging when the wunderblogs are unstable:

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180. PensacolaDoug
12:44 AM GMT on January 06, 2017
Quoting 171. win1gamegiantsplease:

Did you guys know rainbows are actually complete circles?

As is this blog!
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179. PensacolaDoug
12:43 AM GMT on January 06, 2017
Great selfie Pat!
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178. BaltimoreBrian
11:06 PM GMT on January 05, 2017
Quoting 100. PensacolaDoug:

How did I end up here!!!
Backsliding again, Doug ;)
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177. Grothar
10:42 PM GMT on January 05, 2017
Quoting 176. Patrap:




I've been telling you to stop drinking.
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176. Patrap
5:56 PM GMT on January 05, 2017
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175. ChiThom
4:54 PM GMT on January 05, 2017
twice today.

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174. ChiThom
4:50 PM GMT on January 05, 2017
...
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173. LAbonbon
4:28 PM GMT on January 05, 2017
You know, I hated the movie Groundhog Day. And last night I watched Tom Cruise repeat everything over and over and over again in Edge of Tomorrow...ugh.

Life imitates fiction?
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172. Patrap
3:24 PM GMT on January 05, 2017
Well, WTH? right?





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171. win1gamegiantsplease
3:22 PM GMT on January 05, 2017
Did you guys know rainbows are actually complete circles?
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170. roberie
1:48 PM GMT on January 05, 2017
This was a cool story the first time i read it almost 11 years ago. not any longer. :(
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169. washingaway
4:57 AM GMT on January 05, 2017
Washingaway was here 1/4/17
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168. washingaway
4:55 AM GMT on January 05, 2017
I used to like rainbows. Sad
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167. Patrap
2:22 AM GMT on January 05, 2017
If we're gonna be sent back to the past every post now, we are expecting some travel Pay, big time.




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166. BaltimoreBrian
11:27 PM GMT on January 04, 2017
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165. washingaway
9:00 PM GMT on January 04, 2017
IBM= Intelligently Blind Morons.
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164. StormJunkie
7:19 PM GMT on January 04, 2017
Utter nonsense.
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163. Patrap
6:55 PM GMT on January 04, 2017
Hey California, after a 6 year drought the Rains are coming Hugely, bigly, the Greatest Rain evah'

For our WU Friends in California,...

It is the springtime of my loving - the second season I am to know
You are the sunlight in my growing - so little warmth I've felt before.
It isn't hard to feel me glowing - I watched the fire that grew so low.

It is the summer of my smiles - flee from me Keepers of the Gloom.
Speak to me only with your eyes. It is to you I give this tune.
Ain't so hard to recognize - These things are clear to all from time to time.

Talk, talk, talk, talk - I've felt the coldness of my winter
I never thought it would ever go. I cursed the gloom that set upon us, 'pon us, 'pon us...
But I know that I love you so. But I know that I love you so

These are the seasons of emotion and like the wind they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion - I see the torch we all must hold.
This is the mystery of the quotient, quotient - Upon us all, upon us all a little rain must fall.
It's just a little rain oh yeah






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162. aquak9
6:03 PM GMT on January 04, 2017
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161. PensacolaDoug
6:00 PM GMT on January 04, 2017
Back to the Future!
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather