If you have not seen a rainbow, chances are you at least know what they are. The colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet—were more than likely learned at some point during schooling. What some people do not know is that rainbows are visible at the right time and from the right angle in a full circle, or 360 degrees. Some people have documented this footage.
World Weather Online states, “360-degree rainbows are rarely documented, primarily because they can only be seen from above, as from an aircraft or a skyscraper. The height of the sun when the rainbow appears determines how much of the circle can be seen, with the sun at its lowest allowing for more of the circle to come into view.”
Jeff Masters, the co-founder of the Weather Underground, commented on the phenomenon back in 2014. He said that he does not believe anybody has ever photographed one. “First photograph to post such a natural 360-degree rainbow image wins a free 2-year wunderground.com membership.”
Since then, there have been at least three documented instances of a 360-rainbow.
Anthony Killeen witnessed such a sight when skydiving with his instructor on a tandem skydive. The view was seen when jumping from New Zealand’s Bay of Islands—an area that consists of over 140 islands next to the North Island of New Zealand—and was photographed. The skydive took place at an altitude of 16,000 feet. Killeen originally hails from England. It was his first skydive (talk about not being able to top your first skydive).
Similarly, a picture of a 360-degree rainbow appeared in a Washington Post article dated May 29, 2015. The video of the rainbow was captured from Skylon Tower which is right next to Niagara Falls—which is on the border between Ontario and New York. According to the tower’s website, a person can be up as high as 775 feet above the falls.
The article stated, “Though it’s pretty difficult to actually see one, 360-degree rainbows are not actually rare … Our ground-based vantage prevents us from seeing the full, colorful circle of refracted light. But when you’re high enough in the sky, and when the light is just right, a full rainbow is a sight to behold.”
Back in 2013, a photograph was taken of a 360-degree rainbow by NASA with the caption “the 84-degree diameter rainbow followed the helicopter, intact, for about 3 miles.” The Washington Post states that it is the only “still photograph of a full rainbow that we’re aware of.”
In July 2017, another video of a 360-degree rainbow appeared online as well. This one was filmed in St. Petersburg, Russia. The video was filmed from a crane.
World Weather Online explains a 360-degree rainbow further by stating, “Half the circle of the rainbow lies beneath the horizon, where it is not raining. However, in spite of this, the viewing of a 360-degree rainbow image as a picture, or better yet in person, can show that the rainbow starts to flatten out to the left near the bottom of the view. This means the view is now more than just the top of what is actually a full circle of reflection.”