Observations of the quinary rainbow
© 1992-2017 Harald Edens, www.weatherscapes.com. All rights reserved

This webpage showcases a selection of photographs obtained to date of the quinary rainbow. Cases are listed in order of most recent to oldest. Most cases yielded a number of photographs showing parts of the quinary rainbow; the best photograph is displayed in each case. Each case lists pertinent information about the observation. Dates are the UTC dates; in some cases the observation was made on the day before the UTC day in local time.

At the Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research, where most of these photographs were taken, the quinary rainbow usually appears whenever the primary and secondary rainbows are very bright, making it a relatively common occurrence. The reason that the observations are only made once or twice per year on average is mostly because the bright rainbows don't occur often due to intervening clouds or poor timing of afternoon thunderstorms.

Earlier appearances of the quinary rainbow from before 2008 may be discovered later in the author's print and slide film scans, and added to the list.

To detect the quinary rainbow in some of the photographs, in particular the unprocessed (non-contrast-enhanced) photographs, it is recommended to study the photographs in a darkened room on a high-quality S-IPS computer display that has excellent color rendition and high dynamic range (true 24-bit color depth). To identify the quinary rainbow in the processed photographs, look for the tell-tale green fingerprint of the quinary, which appears as a broad green band, a few degrees in width, inside the secondary rainbow. In some cases the blue-violet inner band of the quinary rainbow is also visible. Once the green band of the quinary rainbow is identified, move the mouse cursor over the image to view the unenhanced photograph and look for a greenish tint of the gray Alexander's dark band at the location of the quinary bow. The green hue, when detectable, has extremely low color contrast in the unenhanced photographs.

In all cases the image processing required to bring the quinary rainbow out is basic, consisting of black and white point adjustment, contrast, and exposure compensation. No increased color saturation is needed. Adobe Lightroom 5.6 was used for the enhancements of these images.

Click the image previews to view a larger version of the photograph along with the unprocessed version, and camera settings.

The 8 August 2012 observation has been accepted for publication in:
H.E. Edens, "Photographic observation of a natural fifth-order rainbow",
Applied Optics feature issue "Light and Color in the Open Air", 2015.

All photographs © Harald Edens. Please contact me before use of images.

5 September 2014


Location: Langmuir Laboratory for atmospheric research, New Mexico, USA
Sun elevation: 16°
Polarization filter: Yes
Quinary bow visible in unprocessed (raw) photograph(s): Yes

12 August 2014


Location: Langmuir Laboratory for atmospheric research, New Mexico, USA
Sun elevation: 16°
Polarization filter: Yes
Quinary bow visible in unprocessed (raw) photograph(s): Yes

22 September 2013


Location: Magdalena, New Mexico, USA
Sun elevation: 18°
Polarization filter: Yes
Quinary bow visible in unprocessed (raw) photograph(s): No

16 September 2013


Location: Magdalena, New Mexico, USA
Sun elevation: 9°
Polarization filter: Yes
Quinary bow visible in unprocessed (raw) photograph(s): Yes

13 July 2013


Location: Langmuir Laboratory for atmospheric research, New Mexico, USA
Sun elevation: 9°
Polarization filter: Yes
Quinary bow visible in unprocessed (raw) photograph(s): No

8 March 2013


Location: Magdalena, New Mexico, USA
Sun elevation: 16°
Polarization filter: Yes
Quinary bow visible in unprocessed (raw) photograph(s): No

8 August 2012


Location: Langmuir Laboratory for atmospheric research, New Mexico, USA
Sun elevation: 26°
Polarization filter: Yes
Quinary bow visible in unprocessed (raw) photograph(s): Yes
Finest observation to date with conspicuous blue-violet color band alongside green band.

9 September 2010


Location: Langmuir Laboratory for atmospheric research, New Mexico, USA
Sun elevation: 1°
Polarization filter: Yes
Quinary bow visible in unprocessed (raw) photograph(s): No

29 August 2010


Location: Langmuir Laboratory for atmospheric research, New Mexico, USA
Sun elevation: 4°
Polarization filter: Yes
Quinary bow visible in unprocessed (raw) photograph(s): No

8 July 2010


Location: Langmuir Laboratory for atmospheric research, New Mexico, USA
Sun elevation: 34°
Polarization filter: Yes
Quinary bow visible in unprocessed (raw) photograph(s): Yes
The quinary bow appears below the horizon at high sun elevation.

4 September 2009


Location: Langmuir Laboratory for atmospheric research, New Mexico, USA
Sun elevation: 8°
Polarization filter: Yes
Quinary bow visible in unprocessed (raw) photograph(s): Yes

28 July 2009


Location: Langmuir Laboratory for atmospheric research, New Mexico, USA
Sun elevation: 17°
Polarization filter: Yes
Quinary bow visible in unprocessed (raw) photograph(s): Yes