Abstract

An imaging Stokes-vector polarimeter using liquid crystal variable retarders (LCVRs) has been built and calibrated. Operating in five bands from 450 to 700  nm, the polarimeter can be changed quickly between narrow (12°) and wide (160°) fields of view. The instrument is designed for studying the effects of differing sky polarization upon the measured polarization of ground-based objects. LCVRs exhibit variations in retardance with ray incidence angle and ray position in the aperture. Therefore LCVR-based Stokes polarimeters exhibit unique calibration challenges not found in other systems. Careful design and calibration of the instrument has achieved errors within ±1.5%. Clear-sky measurements agree well with previously published data and cloudy data provide opportunities to explore spatial and spectral variations in sky polarization.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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