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Light refracts when passing between

two substances at an angle.


Light slows down in glass.

Here the left side slows down
first causing the light
to bend to the left.
ht r

Ch 15:1

Optics The Study of Light

The right side hits first and slows

down: bends to the right.

If the light
does not enter
at an angle, it
does not bend.

Every lens or mirror has a place where all

of the parallel rays will meet. This is
known as the focal point or focus.

angle of incidence =
angle of reflection

Angle of Reflection the

angle between the outgoing ray and the normal.

Object vs. Image

Mirrors and lenses can make things look

bigger or smaller because our eyes always
think that light comes from straight lines,
even if they have been refracted or reflected.

angle of

60o 60o

Straight Lines


focal point
or focus

angle of

Angle of Incidence the

angle between the incoming ray and the normal.



(90o to mirror)

Normal an imaginary
line 90o (perpendicular to
a surface.


Light speeds up in air.

Here the left side speeds
up first causing the light to
bend to the right.

Light reflects at shiny

boundaries we call mirrors.


The object is what you

are looking at: the actual
The image is what you
think you see: the object
enlarged, reduced, or
moved .


Lenses work by refraction, by
the light bending when moving
between two substances.

Lenses and mirrors work opposite of each

other. If a concave lens reduces,
then a concave mirror magnifies.
Concave or Convex

A convex lens magnifies.

looks like
the sides
have caved in.


Mirrors work by reflection, by the
bounding of light off of a shiny surface.
Images in mirrors always look twice as
far away as the object.
Ex. An image looks 20 m away in a mirror.
How far away is the object?
Answer: Half the distance: 10 meters.
A convex mirror reduces.


convex lens

A convex lens is convergent

the light rays come together.

the middle
is bigger
than the


A concave lens reduces.

convex mirror

A convex mirror is divergent.

A concave mirror magnifies

Optical Systems


concave lens

A concave lens is divergent

the light rays spread apart.

Microscopes and telescopes are optical

systems that use
combinations of lenses
and/or mirrors to magnify light. Combining
optical devices allows us to see
very distant or very small objects.

concave mirror


A concave mirror is convergent.

Copyright 2004, C. Stephen Murray




Practice Page


Pinhole Image Formation

Pearson Education, Inc., or its afliate(s). All rights reserved.

Look carefully at the round spots of light on the shady ground beneath trees. These are sunballs, and
are actually images of the sun. They are cast by openings between leaves in the trees that act as pinholes. Large sunballs, several centimeters in diameter or so, are cast by openings that are relatively
high above the ground, while small ones are produced by closer pinholes. The interesting point
is that the ratio of the
diameter of the sunball
to its distance from the
pinhole is the same as
the ratio of the suns
diameter to its distance
from the pinhole. We
know the sun is approximately 150,000,000 km
from the pinhole, so
careful measurement
of this ratio tells us the
diameter of the sun.
Thats what this page is
about. Instead of nding sunballs under the
shade of trees, make your
own easier-to-measure
1. Poke a small hole in a piece of cardboard (like with a sharp pencil).
Hold the cardboard in the sunlight and note the circular image that
is cast. This is an image of the sun. Note that its size does not depend
on the size of the hole in the cardboard, but only on its distance. The
image will be a circle when cast on a surface that is perpendicular to
the rays otherwise it will be stretched out as an ellipse.
2. If you were doing this when the sun is partially eclipsed, what image shape would you
expect to see?
3. Try holes of different shapes say a square hole, or a triangular hole. What is the shape
of the image when its distance from the cardboard is large compared to the size of the

Does the shape of the pinhole make a difference?

4. Measure the diameter of a small coin. Then place the coin on a viewing area that is perpendicular
to the suns rays. Position the cardboard so the image exactly covers the coin. Carefully measure the
distance between the coin and the the small hole in the cardboard.
Complete the following:
Diameter of sunball
Distance to pinhole
With this ratio, estimate the diameter of the sun. Show your work on the back.

Chapter 30

Lenses 137