Abstract

Old and new laboratory experiments on atmospheric optics with a focus on mirages, rainbows, and halos are presented. Some qualitative demonstrations serve primarily didactical purposes, e.g., by proving the existence of curved light rays in media with a gradient of the index of refraction, by directly visualizing the minimum-deviation curve for rainbow paths in water droplets, or by helping to elucidate the ray classes in hexagons that contribute to a specific halo. In addition, quantitative experiments allow a direct comparison of angular positions and intensities with analytical computations or Monte Carlo simulations of light scattering from small water droplets or ice hexagons. In particular, the latter can help us to understand complex halo phenomena.

© 1998 Optical Society of America

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