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Abstract
The easiest optical effect to observe through an airplane window is the variation of sky color from the hazy, particle-laden lower atmosphere to the clear blue sky at flight altitude. This transition is particularly striking when leaving humid or hazy air, as illustrated in Fig. 2.1. This fisheye photograph was taken through an airplane window shortly after leaving Washington, D.C., and it shows that the hazy lower atmosphere gives way to a rich blue sky above the high-altitude cirrus clouds (it also includes an interesting example of cloud shadows in the haze). The blue skylight is a result of scattering by atmospheric gas molecules (primarily nitrogen and oxygen). When the light encounters these gas molecules, it is scattered - or sent in a new direction - and this scattering by molecules much smaller than the wavelength occurs more readily for blue light than for red light, as shown in Fig 2.2. For these tiny molecules, the amount of scattered light is proportional to one over the fourth power of the wavelength. The easiest optical effect to observe through an airplane window is the variation of sky color from the hazy, particle-laden lower atmosphere to the clear blue sky at flight altitude. This transition is particularly striking when leaving humid or hazy air, as illustrated in Fig. 2.1. This fisheye photograph was taken through an airplane window shortly after leaving Washington, D.C., and it shows that the hazy lower atmosphere gives way to a rich blue sky above the high-altitude cirrus clouds (it also includes an interesting example of cloud shadows in the haze). The blue skylight is a result of scattering by atmospheric gas molecules (primarily nitrogen and oxygen). When the light encounters these gas molecules, it is scattered - or sent in a new direction - and this scattering by molecules much smaller than the wavelength occurs more readily for blue light than for red light, as shown in Fig 2.2. For these tiny molecules, the amount of scattered light is proportional to one over the fourth power of the wavelength.
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CHAPTER 2
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