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Appl Opt. 2008 Dec 1;47(34):H91-4.

Variability in low altitude astronomical refraction as a function of altitude.

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Department of Physical Sciences, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, Connecticut 06226, USA.


Low altitude astronomical refraction (LAAR) of the setting Sun was measured over a sea horizon from a coastal location in Barbados, West Indies. The altitude of the upper limb of the Sun and the apparent horizon were determined using a digital video camera (Canon XL2) and a digital SLR camera (Canon EOS 5D). A total of 14 sunsets were measured between 2005 and 2007. From these measurements LAAR variability was estimated at 14 standard altitudes of the refracted Sun between 0 degrees .01 and 4 degrees .5. The relative variability decreases with increasing altitude from +/- 0.0195 of mean refraction at an altitude of 0 degrees .01 to +/- 0.0142 at 4 degrees .5. If extrapolated to an altitude of 15 degrees , a linear fit to the data produces a relative variability of +/- 0.0038 and an absolute variability of +/- 0(").45. Statistical analysis of the relative variability in LAAR appears to support the decreasing trend. However, error propagation analysis further suggests that the observed values of refraction may exceed the accuracy of the measurement system at altitudes higher than 2 degrees .

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