Abstract

Glare points associated with the Airy caustics of once and twice internally reflected rays are visible in the scattering by sunlit icicles. Supporting color photographs include an image of the far-field scattering. Relevant rays are analogous to the Descartes rays of primary and secondary rainbows of drops; however, the caustic conditions for the icicle are predicted to be affected by tilt of the illumination relative to the axis of the icicle. A model for the caustic evolution, given for a circular dielectric cylinder, manifests a transition in which the Airy caustic (and associated glare points) merge in the meridional plane at a critical tilt. At this critical tilt the merged glare point is predicted to be very bright. The calculations use the Bravais effective refractive index and generalized ray tracing.

© 1998 Optical Society of America

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