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Nearly 9-Hour Rainbow in Taiwan Sets New Guinness Record

Last November, researchers recorded more than 10,000 photos and videos documenting the long-lasting weather phenomenon

smithsonian.com

Over the weekend, Guinness World Records officially crowned an almost 9-hour long rainbow visible in Taiwan late last year as the longest-lasting rainbow ever recorded.

As Lydia Lam at The Straits Times reports, the colorful arches stretched near the Chinese Culture University in the Shilin District on the northern edge of Taipei on November 30, 2017.

Professors Chou Kun-hsuan and Liu Ching-huang of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and their students caught sight of the colorful arches and documented the phenomenon, along with other students from the university who took pictures and video recordings of the rainbow.

Cindy Sui at the BBC reports that after the rainbow lasted for several hours, the observers began getting excited. "After four hours, we mobilized all our students and began to notify everyone in the school to take pictures and send us pictures,” Chou says. “When we broke the previous record after passing six hours, I was hardly able to stay seated for lunch; it was around lunchtime. I was so excited; I wanted to make sure we captured the rainbow. But then it did something even more incredible; it went on to beat the previous record by another three hours!"

According to Jennifer Earl at CBS News, Chou told staff and students that they needed “per second” photos to document the rainbow and prove that it lasted and did not dissipate and reform. The department of atmospheric sciences alone produced 10,000 images of the weather effect, and that’s not counting images taken by other student and staff at the university. The documentation was enough to prove to Guinness that the rainbow was the real deal, lasting 8 hours and 58 minutes and beating the previous record, a 'bow that arched across Wetherby in Yorkshire, England, in March 1994 for at least six hours.

Sui reports that Chou and his colleagues were not totally surprised by the rainbow. In fact, they were on watch for a long-lasting rainbow since the previous Monday they had documented one that lasted almost six hours.

So why is the campus such a great spot for mega-rainbows? Earl reports that at certain times of the year, monsoon systems from the north east trap lots of moisture in the air. Steady, slow winds create rainbow-friendly atmospheric conditions, especially in the Yangmingshan National Park, which the college is just a ten-minute drive away from. In fact, awesome rainbows are so regular that Chou thinks the region should begin touting its rainbows to promote tourism to the area.

This isn’t the only incredible rainbow ever captured. In 2011, scientists snapped the first recorded image of a quadruple rainbow near Bremerhaven, Germany. Which is cool, but the world record for the most awesomest reaction to a rainbow is still held by Paul "Bear" Vasquez whose viral reaction to a double rainbow in 2010 promises to live on the internet forever.

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.

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