Eli5: why is it more common to see a half rainbow and why is it sometimes still visible in full


Bonus eli5: how has the full rainbow become the dominating way we draw/imagine/present rainbows while its a lot less common?

In: 0

Rainbows are the result if water drops that reflect back and separate light by color, The angle between incoming and outgoing light is 42 degrees for the top and 40 for the bottom.

The center of the circle will be along a line from the sun that passes through your head. [like in this image](https://qph.cf2.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-968aeb0ddb0b16d2a4d109839957ab4d.webp)


To see all of the circle you need to be at an elevated position so the bottom don’t intersect the ground. The result is they are to see a complete circle you need to be flying or be on a structure that does not block a significant amount of light like a tower made of trusses. The practical result you are most likely to see them from an airplane.

There is a way to cheat, make the rainbow yourself. Provide the water droplets with a hose and be close to them so the rainbow gets small. Yu need to have it large enough so your body is inside and support you do not bloc a lot of light. The result can be something like https://qph.cf2.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-23a8dc9a266ebe7e96076ed7c249a537-lq you can do better if do not stand up straight.