Polarization patterns of the summer sky and its neutral points measured by full–sky imaging polarimetry in Finnish Lapland north of the Arctic Circle

József Gál, Gábor Horváth, Viktor Benno Meyer-Rochow, Rüdiger Wehner


Using 180° field–of–view (full–sky) imaging polarimetry, the patterns of the degree and angle of polarization of the entire summer sky were measured on 25 June 1999 at a location north of the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland as a function of the angular solar zenith distance. A detailed description of the used full–sky imaging polarimeter and its calibration is given. A series of the degree and angle of polarization pattern of the full sky is presented in the form of high–resolution circular maps measured in the blue (450 nm) spectral range as a function of the solar zenith distance. Graphs of the spectral dependence of the degree and angle of polarization of skylight at 90° from the Sun along the antisolar meridian are shown. The celestial regions of negative polarization and the consequence of the existence of this anomalous polarization, the neutral points, are visualized. The measured values of the angular zenith distance of the Arago and Babinet neutral points are presented as a function of the zenith distance of the Sun for the red (650 nm), green (550 nm) and blue (450 nm) ranges of the spectrum. The major aim of this work is to give a clear and comprehensive picture, with the help of full–sky imaging polarimetry, of what is going on in the entire polarized skydome. We demonstrate how variable the degree of polarization of skylight and the position of the neutral points can be within 24 h on a sunny, almost cloudless, visually clear day.

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