Explaining the rainbow

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A complete explanation of the rainbow, couched in the mathematics of the wave theory of light, is not for the fainthearted. Fortunately, it is possible to account for most of its principal features in terms of reflection and refraction of light, without invoking the wave nature of light. People realised long ago that, since rainbows are always seen on the opposite side of the sky from the Sun, they are due to reflected sunlight. But if raindrops reflected light as efficiently as mirrors,...