Amazing Places

This Record-Breaking Rainbow Lasted Nine Hours

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Rainbows are beautiful in the same way that flowers are — their bright colors are enhanced by the knowledge that they will quickly fade. But sometimes a rainbow doesn't get the hint and stays around for longer than you'd think possible. So far, the current record is nearly nine hours.

"A Gift from the Sky"

Researchers at Taipei's Chinese Culture University didn't set out to catch a record-breaking rainbow. All they were trying to prove was a theory about how fast rainbows descend in the sky. But the bright bow appeared in the sky at about 6:57 in the morning, and soon they knew they had something special going.

"After four hours, we mobilized all our students and began to notify everyone in the school to take pictures and send us pictures," said professor Chou Kun-hsuan to the BBC. The excitement only grew when the rainbow reached the six-hour mark, eclipsing the previous world record. It shone for three more hours after that, easily setting the bar for the longest rainbow ever. Professor Chou again: "It was amazing ... It felt like a gift from the sky."

Timelapse of Taipei's Record-Breaking Rainbow

A Long-Lasting Bow

Most rainbows fade in less than an hour. So what made this particular rainbow last more than nine times as long? It all comes down to climate. A seasonal monsoon had churned a lot of moisture into the air, while low cloud cover with lots of sunlight sparked the illusion itself. These kinds of conditions are pretty standard in Taipei winters, making it a great place to spot long-lasting rainbows.

Written by Reuben Westmaas January 31, 2018

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