Title

Astronomy and the limits of vision

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-1993

Abstract

Celestial visibility is the study of the limits of observability of objects in the sky, with application to deducing the truth about historical events or to the derivation of astronomical information of modern utility. This study is based on what is seen by ordinary humans, either in their everyday lives or at times of historical events. The results of such studies have more relevance to non-scientists than does any other area of astronomy. Celestial visibility is a young discipline in the sense that the number of interesting applications with simple solutions outnumber the solved problems; it is a broad interdisciplinary field that involves work with astronomy, meteorology, optics, physics, physiology, history, and archeology. Each of these disciplines contribute specialized mathematical formulations which quantify the many processes that affect light as it leaves a source, traverses the atmosphere, and is detected by the human eye. These formulas can then be combined as appropriate to create mathematical models for the visibility of the source under the conditions of interest. These model results can then be applied a wide variety of problems arising in history, astronomy, archeology, meteorological optics, and archeoastronomy. This review also presents a dozen suggestions for observing projects, many of which can be directly taken for individual study, for classroom projects, or for professional research. © 1994.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Vistas in Astronomy

First Page

311

Last Page

361

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