Optical phenomenon

An optical phenomenon is any observable event that results from the interaction of light and matter. See also list of optical topics and optics. A mirage is an example of an optical phenomenon.

Common optical phenomena are often due to the interaction of light from the sun or moon with the atmosphere, clouds, water, dust, and other particulates. One common example is the rainbow, when light from the sun is reflected and refracted by water droplets. Some, such as the green ray, are so rare they are sometimes thought to be mythical.[1] Others, such as Fata Morganas, are commonplace in favored locations.

Other phenomena are simply interesting aspects of optics, or optical effects. The colors generated by a prism are often shown in classrooms, for instance.

Sun halo at latitude 41 degrees south


A list of optical phenomena

Optical phenomena include those arising from the optical properties of the atmosphere; the rest of nature (other phenomena); of objects, whether natural or human-made (optical effects); and of our eyes (Entoptic phenomena). Also listed here are unexplained phenomena that could have an optical explanation and "optical illusions" for which optical explanations have been excluded.

There are many phenomena that result from either the particle or the wave nature of light. Some are quite subtle and observable only by precise measurement using scientific instruments. One famous observation is of the bending of light from a star by the Sun observed during a solar eclipse. This demonstrates that space is curved, as the theory of relativity predicts.

Observations of some phenomena such as the photoelectric effect, which is the flow of electric current in a material or through a vacuum (as in a photocell) when the material is exposed to light, led to advances in science, since they could not be easily explained by existing theory.

Atmospheric optical phenomena

The Circumzenithal Arc over Grand Forks, ND

Other optical phenomena

Green flash appears above the solar disc for a second or so. One such occurrence was taken from Cerro Paranal.

Optical effects

  • The ability of light to travel through space or through a vacuum.

Entoptic phenomena

Optical illusions

  • The unusually large size of the Moon as it rises and sets, the moon illusion
  • The shape of the sky, the sky bowl

Unexplained phenomena

Some phenomena are yet to be conclusively explained and may possibly be some form of optical phenomena. Some[weasel words] consider many of these "mysteries" to simply be local tourist attractions that are not worthy of thorough investigation.[2]


Further reading

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • optical phenomenon — optinis reiškinys statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. optical phenomenon vok. optische Erscheinung, f rus. оптическое явление, n pranc. phénomène optique, m …   Fizikos terminų žodynas

  • optical phenomenon — noun a physical phenomenon related to or involving light • Hypernyms: ↑physical phenomenon • Hyponyms: ↑aberration, ↑distortion, ↑optical aberration, ↑absorption band, ↑diffraction, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Glory (optical phenomenon) — A glory is an optical phenomenon appearing much like an iconic Saint s halo about the head of the observer which is produced by light backscattered (a combination of diffraction, reflection and refraction) towards its source by a cloud of… …   Wikipedia

  • Halo (optical phenomenon) — A halo (unicode|ἅλως; also known as a nimbus, icebow or Gloriole) is an optical phenomenon that appears near or around the Sun or Moon, and sometimes near other strong light sources such as street lights. There are many types of optical halos,… …   Wikipedia

  • acousto-optical phenomenon — akustooptinis reiškinys statusas T sritis automatika atitikmenys: angl. acousto optical phenomenon vok. akusto optischer Effekt, m rus. акустооптический эффект, m pranc. phénomène acousto optique, m …   Automatikos terminų žodynas

  • Corona (optical phenomenon) — For other uses, see Corona (disambiguation). A lunar corona …   Wikipedia

  • Optical overheating protection — With all solar thermal collector systems there is a potential risk that the solar collector may reach an equilibrium or stagnation temperature higher than the maximum safe operating temperature. Various measures are taken for optical overheating… …   Wikipedia

  • optical illusion — noun an optical phenomenon that results in a false or deceptive visual impression • Hypernyms: ↑optical phenomenon • Hyponyms: ↑apparent motion, ↑motion, ↑apparent movement, ↑movement, ↑mirage * * * noun, pl ⋯ sions [c …   Useful english dictionary

  • optical aberration — noun an optical phenomenon resulting from the failure of a lens or mirror to produce a good image • Syn: ↑aberration, ↑distortion • Derivationally related forms: ↑aberrate (for: ↑aberration) • Hypernyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Optical contact bonding — is a glueless process whereby two closely conformal surfaces are joined together, being held purely by intermolecular forces. Contents 1 History 2 Explanation 3 Production of an optical contact bond 4 …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.