Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/475

This page has been validated.

Irradiation.—Next to the black rays in importance is the matter of irradiation as analyzed by means of ray forms. The method of investigation is as follows: Make a small hole in a window blind and observe the sky through it by different distances. From near-by the outline of the hole is well perceived, but, as one draws away, the rays soon obscure the hole itself, so that its form and size can not be perceived. At these different distances, the width of the rays varies with the true angular size of the hole. For example, I found at ten feet an irradiation of 2′ and at three feet an irradiation of 6′, because at the nearer point the rays are three times as wide and overlap each other at three times the distance from the hole. Irradiation then is the merging together of the rays, and on any straight line of separation, is proportional to the total ray light on the corresponding hemisphere about a star.

Color, size, intensity and perfection of eye are positive factors in irradiation. The negative factor is the background, and the result depends upon the sensitiveness of the eye at the time of observation. Some general results we can see at once. Irradiation is not necessarily the same in any two eyes or in any two directions. It varies with fatigue of the retina and probably with use of the eye in some unusual position, producing unusual conditions of pressure upon the eye-ball. Ordinarily, its amount depends directly on contrast between the areas observed and on the size of the central nucleus of rays in the desired direction. This nucleus must not be assumed to be centrally located on its source.

Best Part of Lens.—A very important bit of information derived in this study of the rays is the location and size of the best part of the crystalline lens. This is done by trying smaller and smaller diaphragms over the eye until the rays cease to appear. They will be found to persist in rudimentary form even when the diaphragm is as small as 1/16 of an inch. This is of great significance in telescopic and microscopic work, because it shows how small the emergent pencil of light must be to avoid the excessive formation of rays. Even at best, they can not be hindered entirely. The use of lower powers with large emergent pencil is therefore very dangerous. The optically superior part of the lens occupies a small irregular area near the center with irregular extensions out toward the margin. Even the best part is far from perfect.

Detached Spots.—An interesting variation of stellar rays has been observed at least in one case. A gentleman drew for me the rays as they appeared to his eye in the experiment described above (see Fig. 7), and while working asked me if I had placed a number of smaller pin holes around the large one. Fig. 10 represents this. It is perfectly possible for detached spots of this kind to be produced by some