MadSci Network: Environment & Ecology

Re: How can the lineair projection from UV rays from the sun fall on Aussie?

Date: Mon Feb 26 18:13:40 2001
Posted By: Renafaye Norby, Faculty, Science Education, Black Hills State Univ.
Area of science: Environment & Ecology
ID: 983175118.En

Rays of light from the sun do not only follow a linear path to the earth's 
surface. If they did, the sky would not be blue and the sun would not look 
yellow or red. First of all, light spreads out in a cone from a point 
source. The sun consists of many point sources and therefore generates 
many cones of light, including the invisible UV, before it approaches 
the earth's atmosphere. Light is scattered by particles in the atmosphere, 
so that the rays do not just strike the earth on a straight line path from 
a point on the sun, but are scattered into all directions. To understand 
this analysis, it is not enough to know some geometry of the sun and the 
earth's orientation throughout the year. One also needs to understand the 
physics of light transmission and of scattering. 

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