Abstract

Around 1508, Leonardo da Vinci first noted and sketched a cross-shaped caustic produced by a plane wave diagonally incident on the meniscus surrounding a bubble on the surface of a water-filled container. This caustic was analyzed in a companion paper using a numerical ray theory spot diagram approach and is analyzed here using analytic ray theory approaches appropriate to the paraxial regime. We demonstrate that the caustic assumes the standard astroid form when the maximum meniscus slope is small, and the shape starts to distort as the maximum meniscus slope increases. We show that competition between generalized coma and generalized astigmatism, with generalized coma dominating, is responsible for the cusp points of the astroid in the plane of the incident light being reversed with respect to their images in the exit plane of the optical system. We also show that Leonardo’s cross is the result of the twofold symmetry of the astigmatic focusing of the diagonally incident plane wave by the circularly symmetric meniscus.

© 2021 Optical Society of America

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