1. The apparent displacement of a celestial body in the direction of motion of the earth in its orbit caused by the motion of the earth combined with the finite velocity of light. When, in addition to the combined effect of the velocity of light and the motion of the earth, account is taken of the motion of the celestial body in space during the interval that the light is traveling to the earth from the luminous body, as in the case of planets, the phenomenon is termed planetary aberration. The aberration due to the rotation of the earth on its axis is termed diurnal aberration or daily aberration. The aberration due to the revolution of the earth about the sun is termed annual aberration. The aberration due to the motion of the center of mass of the solar system in space is termed secular aberration but is not taken into account in practical astronomy.
  2. The convergence to different foci, by a lens or mirror, of parallel rays of light. In a single lens having spherical surfaces, aberration may be caused by differences in the focal lengths of the various parts of the lens: rays passing through the outer part of the lens come to a focus nearer the lens than do rays passing through its central part. This is termed spherical aberration and, being due to the faulty figure of the lens, is eliminated by correcting that figure. A lens so corrected is called an aplanatic lens. Aberration may also result from differences in the wavelengths of light of different colors: light of the shorter wavelengths (violet end of the spectrum) comes to a focus nearer the lens than light of the longer wavelengths (red end of the spectrum). This is termed chromatic aberration, and is practically eliminated over a moderate range of wavelengths by using a composite lens, called an achromatic lens, composed of parts having different dispersive powers.

Related Terms


A type of pyrometer, such as the Wanner optical pyrometer, in which monochromatic light from the source under investigation and light from a lamp with filament maintained at a constant but unknown temperature are both polarized and their intensities compared.


Smoothing the surface of a metal by a rapid series of overlapping, light hammerlike blows or by rolling in a planishing mill.


Concrete without reinforcement but often with light steel to reduce shrinkage and temperature cracking.


The electronic technology involved with the practical generation, manipulation, analysis, transmission, and reception of electromagnetic energy in the visible, infrared, and ultraviolet portions of the light spectrum. It contributes to many fields, including astronomy, biomedicine, data communications and storage, fiber optics, imaging, optical computing, optoelectronics, sensing, and telecommunications. Also known as optoelectronics.


A nephelometer that uses a photocell or phototube to measure the amount of light transmitted by a suspension of particles.


The production of a voltage in a nonhomogeneous semiconductor, such as silicon, or at a junction between two types of material, by the absorption of light or other electromagnetic radiation.


A device for measuring the speed of water currents in which a perforated disk, which rotates with the current by means of a propeller, is placed in the path of a beam of light that is then reflected from a mirror onto a phototube.


A level indicator in which rising liquid interrupts the light beam of a photoelectric control system; used in a tank or process vessel.


A missile dropped from aircraft; it contains a photoflash mixture and a means for ignition at a distance above the ground, to produce a brilliant light of short photoelectric effect See photoelectricity.


Device for measurement of solution turbidity by use of photocells to detect the loss of intensity of light beamed through the solution.

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