The mean-square angle-of-arrival (AOA) difference between two counter-propagating spherical waves in atmospheric turbulence is theoretically formulated. Closed-form expressions for the path weighting functions are obtained. It is found that the diffraction and refraction effects of turbulent cells make negative and positive contributions to the mean-square AOA difference, respectively, and the turbulent cells located at the midpoint of the propagation path have no contributions to the mean-square AOA difference. If the mean-square AOA difference is separated into the refraction and diffraction parts, the refraction part always dominates the diffraction one, and the ratio of the diffraction part to the refraction one is never larger than 0.5 for any turbulence spectrum. Based on the expressions for the mean-square AOA difference, formulae for the correlation coefficient between the angles of arrival of two counter-propagating spherical waves in atmospheric turbulence are derived. Numerical calculations are carried out by considering that the turbulence spectrum has no path dependence. It is shown that the mean-square AOA difference always approximates to the variance of AOA fluctuations. It is found that the correlation coefficient between the angles of arrival in the x or y direction of two counter-propagating spherical waves ranges from 0.46 to 0.5, implying that the instantaneous angles of arrival of two counter-propagating spherical waves in atmospheric turbulence are far from being perfectly correlated even when the turbulence spectrum does not vary along the path.
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