Abstract

A water drop hanging from a house siding board after a rain shower is near-normally illuminated by sunlight either shortly after sunrise or before sunset. A focusing caustic consisting of a bright V-shape or U-shape with a small bright elliptical shape immediately above it is frequently seen on the next lower siding board. In addition, there are two broad regions of illumination immediately above the caustic, fanning out to the upper left and upper right. This complicated pattern, composed of a bright V-shape or U-shape, and the bottom half of the small bright elliptical-shape immediately above it, is caused by the hyperbolic umbilic diffraction caustic near the condition of maximum focus. This can be observed because, by a stroke of good fortune, the distance between the lower edge of a siding board and the flat portion of the next siding board beneath it is nearly equal to the paraxial focal distance of the caustic. Blocking off the light incident on the top, bottom, left side, and right side of the drop was used to determine the portion of the drop responsible for different parts of the caustic. The results were found to match the predictions for the hyperbolic umbilic caustic.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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