The correct consideration of the index of refraction when using blackbody radiators as standard sources for optical radiation is derived and discussed. It is shown that simply using the index of refraction of air at laboratory conditions is not sufficient. A combination of the index of refraction of the media used inside the blackbody radiator and for the optical path between blackbody and detector has to be used instead. A worst case approximation for the introduced error when neglecting these effects is presented, showing that the error is below 0.1 % for wavelengths above 200 nm. Nevertheless, for the determination of the spectral radiance for the purpose of radiation temperature measurements the correct consideration of the refractive index is mandatory. The worst case estimation reveals that the introduced error in temperature at a blackbody temperature of 3000 °C can be as high as 400 mk at a wavelength of 650 nm and even higher at longer wavelengths.
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