There was something else penciled in for today’s post and a special set of pictures saved for some other special day, but then the world changed and I realized that today was the special day.
Two months ago when I had spent a week in Washington for the Hubble 25 NASA Social, I flew back to Los Angeles through Dallas Fort-Worth. As anyone who has flown through DFW knows, weather can be a factor there. Large thunderstorms are not uncommon and they can snarl traffic throughout the nation and the world as delays and cancellations start to cascade through the air traffic control system. This was one of those days.
Just out of Washington we were informed that instead of a direct route (over West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas) we would be diverted north in order to avoid storms. We would be going across Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. This would make us late, most of us would miss our connections, blah blah blah, except that the connections were just as screwed up as we were, so…
As is my wont, I took pictures out the window while flying. After bouncing through some significant storms and turbulence on our downwind leg over Mesquite, we turned to base south of DFW, then turned north on final, broke through underneath the clouds and found this:
…and contorted in my seat as best I could to look back. Not only did we have a double rainbow, but we had a full-arc rainbow! It was the first time I had ever seen such a thing. I wanted to get the entire rainbow into one picture, but the full arc is too wide for anything but a wide-angle lens.
Wait! I could shoot multiple frames and combine them into a panorama! I was shooting pictures with my iPhone and really wanted to get to my DSLR to get a better set of pictures to combine into the panorama. But on short final, trays up, seat backs in a full and upright position, my good cameras safely buried under the seat in front of me, and only seconds to go before the rainbow would fade, I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
Then it occurred to me that my iPhone has that panorama mode. We were bouncing all over the place in the turbulence – would the iPhone’s panorama software handle that?
Not only was the rainbow a full arc, but it was a double! The outside arc was more visible on the ends near the ground, but the dark area between the two arcs was quite distinct and the full outside arc could be seen dimly.
This was a fantastic end to a fantastic trip. There were all of the flight delays to deal with, but that just gave me a chance to go through these pictures and start tweeting and emailing copies to American Airlines and several prominent online science journalists and photographers.
It should be obvious why a story about rainbows, especially a story full of excitement, passion, and beauty, would be so appropriate today. It was a very good day when I caught the images of this complete arc double rainbow – it was a very good day today as well.
Today deserves these rainbows.