How to Remember the Order of the Rainbow Colors
When drawing a rainbow, how do you know which colors go where? Luckily, there is an easy way to remember the order in which the colors of the rainbow go.
What Causes a Rainbow?
Once you understand what causes a rainbow, you'll understand that the order of the rainbow colors isn't a random jumbling of colors that simply looks good.
A rainbow is created by something called light refraction. The color of light is actually made up of all the colors of the rainbow. As light rays travel through the air, to us they appear as white light. When sunlight hits an object, such as mist or raindrops, the rays are refracted, or bent, and then reflected off the inside of the drops. The angle of bending is different for different wavelengths of light. We observe the different wavelengths as different colors. The color red bends the most and violet the least.
A rainbow will always be in the opposite side of the sky as the sun from the observer. The rainbow colors are reflected to the eye at 42 degrees to the original ray of sunlight. Seeing a rainbow all depends on the angle of the sun in relation to where you are. This means that two people will never see the exact same rainbow!
Who is Roy G. Biv?
I would like to introduce you to someone that will become your best friend when remembering the order of the colors of the rainbow. His name is Roy G. Biv. Roy G. Biv is actually an acronym for the colors of the rainbow.
R = Red
O = Orange
Y = Yellow
G = Green
B = Blue
I = Indigo
V = Violet
A note about the color indigo: Originally, Newton described only five primary colors of the rainbow. He later added orange and indigo. It is said that he added these colors so that there would be seven colors to match the seven notes in a musical scale. Some later color theorists chose to replace indigo and violet with a single hue: purple or violet. Some people are adamant about removing indigo from the rainbow colors. I personally like the look of the seven colors, as pictured above. Some people today choose to call Newton's blue cyan and indigo blue. This is up to your discretion.
A Song to Help Remember the Order of the Rainbow Colors
Here is the first paragraph of the lyrics. These are going to be the most important lines you'll want to remember.
Roy G. Biv by Neel and Patty Shukla
Here's a little song about Roy G. Biv. He makes up all the colors that you see where you live. If you know all the colors, sing them with me: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet all that you see.
If you remember the first three lines of this song, you'll have the order of the rainbow colors down cold. And trust me, this song will get stuck in your head. Good luck, and say hi to our friend Roy G. Biv for me!