A photographer has snapped a rare quintuple rainbow over his home in New Jersey.
So-called ‘supernumerary rainbows’ only form when falling water droplets are all nearly exactly the same size, according to Nasa, which featured the image as part of its astronomy picture of the day on Tuesday.
The result is a series of three or more rainbows hanging in the sky that can sometimes stretch to five in ‘exceptional’ circumstances, according to one expert.
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Photographer John Entwistle took the amazing snap while photographing a sunset from his backyard.
The incredible spectacle faded in an out for around half an hour, much to the delight of the photographer.
Writing on Instagram on September 18, Mr Entwistle said: ‘I could be wrong but that sure looks like a quintuple rainbow at sunset tonight over the Jersey Shore, NJ.’
Nasa featured the amazing image as part of its astronomy picture of the day on Tuesday, describing the phenomenon pictured as a ‘hall of rainbows’.
The agency wrote: ‘Supernumerary rainbows only form when falling water droplets are all nearly the same size and typically less than a millimetre across.
‘Then, sunlight will not only reflect from inside the raindrops, but interfere, a wave phenomenon similar to ripples on a pond when a stone is thrown in.’
Experts said that while supernumerary rainbows were relatively common, a quintuple sighting was ‘exceptionally’ rare.
This is because the viewer has to be lined up at precisely the right angle when observing the rainbow to see so many in a row.
Raymond Lee, a research professor at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, said: ‘Supernumerary rainbows are actually fairly common and, despite their superfluous-sounding name, are an intrinsic part of any rainbow.’
Dr Gunther Können, a retired climate scientist with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, told Live Science: ‘In general, supernumeraries are quite common. There are many pictures of 2 or 3 supernumeraries.
‘But the appearance in nature of 5 supernumeraries is exceptional.’