Abstract

Using full-sky imaging polarimetry, we measured the celestial distribution of polarization during sunset and sunrise at partial (78% and 72%) and full (100%) moon in the red (650 nm), green (550 nm), and blue (450 nm) parts of the spectrum. We investigated the temporal change of the patterns of degree p and angle α of linear polarization of sunlit and moonlit skies at dusk and dawn. We describe here the position change of the neutral points of sky polarization, and present video clips about the celestial polarization transition at moonlit twilight. We found that at partial moon and at a medium latitude (47° 15.481′ N) during this transition there is a relatively short (10–20 min) period when (i) the maximum of p of skylight decreases, and (ii) from the celestial α pattern neither the solar–antisolar nor the lunar–antilunar meridian can be unambiguously determined. These meridians can serve as reference directions of animal orientation and Viking navigation based on sky polarization. The possible influence of these atmospheric optical phenomena during the polarization transition between sunlit and moonlit skies on the orientation of polarization-sensitive crepuscular/nocturnal animals and the hypothesized navigation of sunstone-aided Viking seafarers is discussed.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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Supplementary Material (9)

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