Review Light-3

Rainbows are produced by:

  1. Refraction

    Partly correct. Light entering the raindrop is reflected off of the back surface.
  2. Reflection

    Partly correct. As the light passes from air to water, and from water to air, the light is bent or refracted. Different colors are refracted different amounts, separating the colors.
  3. Both reflection and refraction

    Correct! When you see a rainbow, the sun will always be behind you. (There are other, similar looking phenomena which you see when facing the sun, but they are not rainbows.) The sunlight enters each raindrop, is refracted (bent). Different colors are refracted different amounts. When the light hits the far side of the raindrop, part of it goes on through, and part of it is reflected back towards the sun (and towards you.) As it passes leaves the drop, the difference in density from water to air refracts (bends) the light even more, separating the colors into bands for the rainbow.
  4. Neither reflection no refraction

    No. One or both take part in producing the rainbow.

Click to see which state standards this question tests, and which of my videos, experiments, and other resources support that topic.


SC.3.P.10.3 Demonstrate that light travels in a straight line until it strikes an object or travels from one medium to another.

SC.3.P.10.4 Demonstrate that light can be reflected, refracted, and absorbed.

SC.7.P.10.2 Observe and explain that light can be reflected, refracted, and/or absorbed.

SC.8.E.5.11 Identify and compare characteristics of the electromagnetic spectrum such as wavelength, frequency, use, and hazards and recognize its application to an understanding of planetary images and satellite photographs.


UT.8.IV.1.e Demonstrate how white light can be separated into the visible color spectrum.


1-PS4-3 Plan and conduct an investigation to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.