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Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Vol. 44, Iss. 27 — Sep. 20, 2005
  • pp: 5675–5683

How are glories formed?

Philip Laven  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 44, Issue 27, pp. 5675-5683 (2005)

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Mie theory can be used to generate full-color simulations of atmospheric glories, but it offers no explanation for the formation of glories. Simulations using the Debye series indicate that glories are caused by rays that have suffered one internal reflection within spherical droplets of water. In 1947, van de Hulst suggested that backscattering (i.e., scattering angle θ = 180°) could be caused by surface waves, which would generate a toroidal wavefront due to spherical symmetry. Furthermore, he postulated that the glory is the interference pattern corresponding to this toroidal wavefront. Although van de Hulst’s explanation for the glory has been widely accepted, the author offers a slightly different explanation. Noting that surface waves shed radiation continuously around the droplet (not just at θ = 180°), scattering in a specific direction θ = 180° − δ can be considered as the vector sum of two surface waves: one deflecting the incident light by 180° + δ and the other by 180° + δ. The author suggests that the glory is the result of two-ray interference between these two surface waves. Simple calculations indicate that this model produces more accurate results than van de Hulst’s model.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(010.1290) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Atmospheric optics
(240.6690) Optics at surfaces : Surface waves
(290.4020) Scattering : Mie theory

Original Manuscript: January 3, 2005
Revised Manuscript: April 17, 2005
Manuscript Accepted: April 18, 2005
Published: September 20, 2005

Philip Laven, "How are glories formed?," Appl. Opt. 44, 5675-5683 (2005)

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