What is atmospheric refraction?


The refraction of light by the Earth’s atmosphere is known as atmospheric refraction. Atmospheric refraction is caused by the bending of light rays when they pass through the layers of the earth’s atmosphere, which are of different optical densities.

  • The molecules of different gases and dust particles have different optical densities.
  • The light coming from a star undergoes atmospheric refraction due to varying optical densities of air at various altitudes.
  • When an object transmits light rays in the atmosphere, these light rays pass through the atmosphere having different air layers of different densities and get refracted by the atmosphere.

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  1. What causes the twinkling of stars at night?
  2. Twinkling of stars is due to atmospheric (1) dispersion of light by water droplets (2) refraction of light by different layers of varying refractive indices (3) scattering of light by dust particles (4) internal reflection of light by clouds

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