Solar Light Polarization
Date: Thursday, April 25, 2002
Why is light from the sun partially polarized and not
Sunlight is polarized because it is scattered by electrons in air
molecules. The electrons are made to vibrate in directions
perpendicular to the sunbeam and reradiate the light mainly in a
direction perpendicular to the motion of the electron (not at all
in the direction along the electron's movement.
So light coming directly toward you, at noon for example, is
unpolarized. It becomes more polarized as you look in directions
perpendicular to the sun's rays. At sunset if you look straight up in
a direction perpendicular to the sun's rays, however, it is still not
fully polarized because some of the light is scattered more than once
before it reaches your eyes.
Best, Dick Plano...
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Update: June 2012