The light pollution model is employed to analyze spatial behavior of luminance at the night sky under cloudless and overcast conditions. Enhanced light excess is particularly identified at cloudy skies, because the clouds efficiently contribute to the downward luminous flux. It is evident that size of ground-based light sources can play an important role in the case of overcast sky conditions. Nevertheless, the realistically sized light sources are rarely embedded into light pollution modeling, and rather they are replaced by simple point sources. We discuss the discrepancies between sky luminance distributions when at first the planar light sources are considered and at second the point-source approximation is accepted. The found differences are noticeable if the size of the light source, distance to the observer, and altitude of a cloudy layer are comparable one to the other. Compared with point-source approximation, an inclusion of the size factor into modeling the light sources leads to partial elimination of the steep changes of sky luminance (typical for point sources of light). The narrow and sharp light pillars normally presented on the sky illuminated by point light sources can disappear or fuse together when two or more nearby light sources are considered with their real sizes. Sky elements situated close to the horizon will glow efficiently if luminous flux originates from two-dimensional ground-based entities (such as cities or villages).
© 2008 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: October 12, 2007
Manuscript Accepted: December 21, 2007
Published: February 20, 2008
Miroslav Kocifaj, "Light pollution simulations for planar ground-based light sources," Appl. Opt. 47, 792-798 (2008)