October 20, 2003: Circular rainbow

Circular rainbows do exist. I shot this photo when flying low over the clouds over Southern France. Added some colour saturation in Photoshop, but haven't changed the actual colours or anything else.

As anytime you see a rainbow it's unique to you (due to light refraction angles in water droplets) you can pretty much pinpoint from the photo where in the plane I was sitting at the time.

Some background information on the phenomenon here and more background about rainbows here.


Thank you for posting your picture. My husband and I saw a circular rainbow on our last flight coming into Newark Airport, Nov. 9,2004. The plane's shadow was facing opposite to yours, and we actually saw a double circle. It was fantastic.

Posted by: Dorothy Smullen at November 19, 2004 04:09 PM

What a wonderful photo! As a pilot flying in Hawaii for the past 37 years, I have seem many circular rainbows but never took a picture. Now I am retired and some dear friends are making a digital story about my career and I would very much to use your photo. If it would be available in 150 dpi and if you would sell me the right to use it, I would be most pleased!


William Noyes

Posted by: William Noyes at July 1, 2005 02:53 AM

I not only saw a circular rainbow, but flew thru it. While stationed in Panama in the early 1970's I was in a helicopter flying from one side of the isthmus to the other. We were following the water way, and a rainshower had just passed thru the area. I looked thru the side doors looking forward and saw a brillintly clear full circle rainbow. As we continuied to fly, we passed thru the circle, and of course, as the angles changed, the rainbow disappeared, but I have a distinct memory of looking up and seeing the rainbow begin to pass over us. My great regret is that of all days I decided not to carry my camera, guess when! Just thought I would share.

Posted by: ed gaffney at October 26, 2005 09:40 PM

My husband and I saw a circular rainbow in Anchorage,Alaska!!Words fail to describe its beauty!

Posted by: sree at December 2, 2005 01:49 AM

My ex-husband and another person witnesses 5 circular rainbows yesterday December 15th, around 1:40 PM in Massachusetts. He said one was around the Sun, one on the left and one on the right, two above the sun with the top one half way through the one touching the sun. He took pictures, but he said it was so large he could not get it into one shot, but the film has not been developed yet. My ex was standing on the ground when he witnessed this, not in an airplane. I'm trying to find info, if anyone else witnessed this, that is how I came to this site.

Posted by: Stormy24 at December 16, 2005 06:54 PM

i am doing science project on circular rainbows. i need information if anyone has anything. pictures would be great. thank you. need by jan 5th.

Posted by: lexie at December 27, 2005 05:58 PM
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Additional stock photography keys: France, Other things, rinbow, red, orange, green, yellow, blue, indigo, violet, colours, plane, aircraft, clouds,

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