Abstract

We analyze the optical caustic produced by light refracted at the curved meniscus surrounding a cylindrical rod standing partially out of a liquid-filled container. When the rod is tilted from the vertical or when light is diagonally incident, the caustic is a four-cusped astroid with two of its cusps obscured by the rod’s shadow. If a portion of the flat end of the rod is raised above the water level, the caustic evolves into a pattern of five interlocking cusps. The five cusps result from symmetry breaking of a three-cusped surface perturbation caustic.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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