- Also called astronomical refraction. the amount, in angular measure, by which the altitude of a celestial body is increased by the refraction of its light in the earth's atmosphere, being zero at the zenith and a maximum at the horizon.
- the observed altered location, as seen from the earth, of another planet or the like due to diffraction by the atmosphere.
Origin of refraction
Related formsre·frac·tion·al, adjectivenon·re·frac·tion, nounnon·re·frac·tion·al, adjective
Examples from the Web for refraction
It was a great matter to discover this effect of refraction.The Royal Observatory Greenwich|E. Walter (Edwared Walter) Maunder
This beautiful law is usually thus expressed: The index of refraction of any substance is the tangent of its polarizing angle.Six Lectures on Light|John Tyndall
And therefore the great breadth of these Shadows proceeds from some other cause than the Refraction of the Air.Opticks|Isaac Newton
The effect of refraction in elevating the solar image as a whole when near the horizon has already been mentioned.Meteorology|Charles Fitzhugh Talman
He has a taste for optics also; and knows all about refraction and reflection.Ariadne Florentina|John Ruskin
British Dictionary definitions for refraction
Medicine definitions for refraction
Related formsre•frac′tion•al null adj.
Science definitions for refraction
The terms refraction and reflection describe two ways that waves, as of sound or light, change course upon encountering a boundary between two media. The media might consist of two different substances, such as glass and air, or a single substance in different states in different regions, such as air at different temperatures or densities in different layers. Reflection occurs, as in a mirror, when a wave encounters the boundary but does not pass into the second medium, instead immediately changing course and returning to the original medium, typically reflecting from the surface at the same angle at which it contacted it. Refraction occurs, as in a lens, when a wave passes from one medium into the second, deviating from the straight path it otherwise would have taken. The amount of deviation or bending depends on the indexes of refraction of each medium, determined by the relative speed of the wave in the two media. Waves entering a medium with a higher index of refraction are slowed, leaving the boundary and entering the second medium at a greater angle than the incident wave. Waves entering a medium with a lower index are accelerated and leave the boundary and enter the second medium at a lesser angle. Incident light waves tend to be fully reflected from a boundary met at a shallow angle; at a certain critical angle and at greater angles, some of the light is also refracted; looking at the surface of water from a boat, for instance, one can see down into the water only out to where the sight line reaches the critical angle with the surface. Light passing through a prism is mostly refracted, or bent, both when it enters the prism and again when it leaves the prism. Since the index of refraction in most substances depends on the frequency of the wave, light of different colors is refracted by different amounts-hence the colorful rainbow effect of prisms. The boundary between media does not have to be abrupt for reflection or refraction to occur. On a hot day, the air directly over the surface of an asphalt road is warmer than the air higher up. Light travels more quickly in the lower region, so light coming down from the sky (from not too steep an angle) is refracted back up again, giving a blue puddle appearance to the asphalt-a mirage.
Culture definitions for refraction
A change of direction that light undergoes when it enters a medium with a different density from the one through which it has been traveling — for example, when, after moving through air, it passes through a prism. (Compare reflection.)