Rainbow Colors

Rainbow Colors – Know the Visible Colors of the Light Spectrum

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Everyone has seen a rainbow at some point in their lives, and we can all agree that a rainbow is one of the most gorgeous natural marvels in our world. While you have seen a rainbow, are you able to name all of the colors in order? In this article, we look at what makes a rainbow and what colors make up a rainbow.



What Is a Rainbow?

A rainbow is not just a basic color arc, it is slightly more complicated than that. Rene Descartes was the initial philosopher to describe light refraction and reflections back in the 17th century. Sir Isaac Newton, another well-known scientist, contributed to the research of light reflection and refraction with his experiment with glass prisms, which explained the breakdown of white light. As the white light travels move through the prism, the light forms many colors as it refracts. This illustrates that white light is formed from a large spectrum of colors.

Rainbow Colors Wavelengths

These colors are visible to the naked eye. Wavelengths exist in all colors, and you can use nanometers to measure, so for example, the color violet is 380 nanometers which is a short wavelength. While a color like red is 700 nanometers, meaning it has a long wavelength. As the colors pass through a prism, they are bent, or refracted, at different angles, this is what causes the rainbow colors to be visible to the naked eye. So why are there only seven colors in a rainbow? These particular colors form a visual spectrum, this means there is no distinct color as the colors blend into the next.  However, to better discuss the colors of the rainbow, Newton initially stated that the spectrum is made up of only five colors. Newton was a big fan of Pythagoras, who strongly advocated the connection between color and music, he amended it to seven colors to coincide with the number of musical notes. This was an easy way to explain colors, but there are more than just seven colors. There may be up to one million colors, we are just not able to see all these other colors.

Seven Notes and Colors

So, what makes a rainbow? When sunlight passes through drops of rain it creates the rainbow you see in the sky, the light gets reflected and refracted, forming the rainbow colors. The angle of the light needs to be at 42 degrees for us to be able to see a rainbow.

Angle of Light for Rainbows

Therefore rainy, sunny days are the perfect time to see a rainbow. The sun cannot be blocked by a dark cloud or mountain. A rainbow can last for roughly an hour depending on the weather conditions. There are records of rainbows lasting many hours in Sheffield, England. The name rainbow stems from an old English word known as renboga. This word is composed of two words, regn, which, translates to “rain”, and boga, which simply means “arched”. Rainbows are even possible at night, especially when there is a full moon. The sunlight reflects off the moon and then passes through the droplets of water to create a moonbow. It is also possible for more than one rainbow to form, such as a double rainbow. A double rainbow occurs when light is reflected twice through a droplet of water.

Double Rainbow Phenomenon

When this happens, you will notice there is a fainter second rainbow slightly above the main rainbow. You can even get quadruple rainbows! Water fountains, waterfalls, and just while you are watering the garden can also result in rainbows forming, so you do not have to always wait for it to rain to see a rainbow. There are also versions of a rainbow that have monochrome colors. This happens at sunrise or sunset when colors like blue and green that have shorter wavelengths are scattered, this results in a monochromatic red rainbow.

Water Fountain Rainbow

Did you know, that due to the horizon, when looking at a rainbow from the ground, you will only be able to see an arc? If you are in an airplane, high above a rainbow, you may be fortunate enough to see a complete circle rainbow. This full-circle rainbow is referred to as a “glory” rainbow. A rainbow has no physical appearance and is an optical illusion. You are therefore unable to touch a rainbow, and this is why you are unable to see the end of the arch and can never reach the end of the rainbow.


What Are the Colors of the Rainbow?

Now that you have an understanding of what causes a rainbow to form, we can go into further detail about the colors of a rainbow. We are taught that there are seven colors in a rainbow, starting from the top with red. What follows is a list of all the colors in the rainbow and the order they are seen in.

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Indigo
  • Violet

Sequence of Rainbow Colors

Indigo is a color that falls halfway between blue and violet. Indigo is often seen as dark blue, while some people see it rather as purple. However, purple is made up of a combination of red and blue, and these two colors are too far apart from each other to overlap and create indigo. You should also take into consideration that what was initially considered blue by scholars, in Newton’s time, is now thought of as cyan, and what in Newton’s time would be thought of as indigo is now considered blue. So, while the visible light spectrum has not changed, the way we view it has.

Cyan Blue and Violet Rainbow Colors


Rainbow Colors in Order

We will now look at the rainbow colors in order. All colors have their symbolism and meaning, and a rainbow plays a pivotal role in certain cultures and religions. For example, in the story of Noah, God sent a rainbow to symbolize that he would not send floods again to destroy the earth. Different cultures have their own beliefs about rainbows. Hawaiians and Native Americans believe that a rainbow is a bridge to the afterlife. The Greeks and Romans view rainbows as a path for the gods. Many of us associate rainbows with a pot of gold, found at the end of a rainbow, which symbolizes luck and is believed in certain places such as Ireland. Colors are also thought to impact things like health and mood.



You may wonder, what is the first color of the rainbow? It is red, this color creates the top curved part of the rainbow. Red is seen by the eye the easiest due to it having a long wavelength. Red really pops and is often viewed as the color of danger and is normally used in warning signs, such as a red traffic light. Red is also linked to positive emotions such as love, but can also be linked with enthusiasm, anger, vitality, and passion. Red is a strong, vibrant color linked to confidence.

Red Rainbow Color

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Red#ff00000, 100, 100, 0255, 0, 0 



The next color in line is orange. Orange can prove to sometimes be too hard to see in a rainbow, due to it being next to the vibrant red. The color orange can often get lost sitting between the vibrancy of red and yellow. Orange is a joyous and cheerful, positive color, that can aid in creating feelings of comfort and happiness. Orange is also linked with perseverance, strength, and endurance. The lighter shades of orange are connected to positive attributes, while more negative connotations are linked to dark orange or burnt orange.

Orange Rainbow Color

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Orange#ffa5000, 35, 100, 0255, 165, 0 



You can see the yellow in a rainbow when the rainbow is clear and strong, the yellow will pop and stand out even more than the red. However, in less intense rainbows it can be hard to see and will fade easily. Yellow is thought to be a positive color, representing wealth, abundance, joy, happiness, creativity, and warmth. The brain is stimulated and energized by the color yellow and it is thought to improve communication and boost memory.

Yellow Rainbow Color

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Yellow#ffff000, 0, 100, 0255, 255, 0 



The next color is green, which is the first color in a rainbow that is a cooler hue. Green is primarily associated with nature and everything natural and is associated with regeneration and growth. The color green also represents health, wealth, and envy and is thought to alleviate problems like depression and anxiety. At a distance, you are more likely to see the color green, and it is due to this fact that traffic lights are green.

Green Rainbow Colors

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Green#00ff00100, 0, 100, 00, 255, 0 



Blue is a relaxing, calming color that makes us think of the sky. Blue is linked to peace, loyalty, comfort, divinity, knowledge, and harmony. Blue creates feelings of tranquility and assists in providing balance. However blue can also be linked to boredom, and sadly, depression.

Blue Rainbow Color

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Blue#0000ff100, 100, 0, 00, 0, 255 



Indigo is the sixth color of the rainbow; it is important to note that some people only view a rainbow as having six colors. They feel that indigo does not count as it lands between blue and violet, and a lot of people are unable to distinguish indigo. Does indigo exist, or is it just more violet or blue, and is indigo purple or blue? The color indigo can be described as both, but many continue to debate it. Indigo represents fantasy, and dreaming, and is linked to mystery, individuality, respect, humility, and wisdom.

Indigo Rainbow Color

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Indigo#4b008242, 100, 0, 4975, 0, 130 



The last color of a rainbow is violet. Of the seven colors, it has the shortest wavelength and is considered a subtle color. the color is linked with luxury, kindness, mystery, selflessness, loyalty, and creativity. Violet shares many attributes with the color purple, as it is simply a lighter shade of purple. Violet will stimulate one’s imagination and offers the energy of the color red, while still being calming and mysterious like the color blue.

Violet Rainbow Color

ShadeHex CodeCMYK Color Code (%)RGB Color CodeColor
Violet#8f00ff44, 100, 0, 0143, 0, 255 



Rainbows are a magical phenomenon found in nature – it is exciting to see a rainbow and call your friends and family to come and look at it. Now that this article has provided you with more information about the colors of a rainbow and their meaning and significance, you may find rainbows even more intriguing!



Frequently Asked Questions


Is Indigo a Shade of Blue?

Indigo can be viewed as either purple or dark blue. The color is considered to be violet and blue. A lot of people struggle to perceive the color indigo and see it instead as either purple or blue. As purple is made up of red and blue, indigo is not purple, but rather dark blue.


What Is a Rainbow?

A rainbow is created when sunlight hits a water droplet in the air, the sunlight then refracts and reflects creating the many colors of the rainbow. You are most likely to see a rainbow on a rainy day, or sunny day, but it can also be created by the spray of the ocean’s waves or in a waterfall.


Do You Get a Rainbow Without Colors?

Yes, you can find a rainbow without colors, this is also known as a white rainbow or a fogbow, and forms inside the fog. When the fog is in front of you and the sun is sitting low on the horizon the fogbow can form. The arc of light that appears may be either yellowish or white.


What Are the Colors of the Rainbow?

There are certain colors that we associate with a rainbow. What is the first color of the rainbow? The first color is red and is then orange, yellow, blue indigo, and violet. While these seven colors are visible in the spectrum, millions of colors are not visible.

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