Have you ever wondered what shape a raindrop is or why a drop of water forms a sphere?

Water droplets are spheres because surface tension pulls the molecules into the smallest possible area to give the lowest ratio of surface area to volume. This shape is a sphere.

Water dripping from a tap, showing  a spherical water droplet
Water dripping from a tap

What shape is a raindrop?

A falling raindrop forms a slightly different shape as drag and air resistance exert pressure on the falling droplet. As the raindrop falls it forms a burger bun type shape with the flat base on the underside. Very different to the image people usually have of a raindrop falling.

Falling raindrops tend to bump into each other and join together. Once they reach a certain size they break apart.

Image of a umbrella covered in rain
What shape is a raindrop?

Find out how much rain falls where you are with a DIY rain gauge.

Make a rain cloud in a jar using food colouring and shaving foam.

Finally, Inspiration Laboratories has a brilliant cloud in a jar activity!

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