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Critical Angle

 


The normal is an imaginary line perpendicular (90°) to the gem/air interface

The angle (A) at which a light ray strikes the gem/air interface to the normal is called the
angle of incidence


When the angle of incidence is oblique the light is totally reflected back into the gem.
The angle (B) of the reflected light ray is called the angle of reflection.


The angle of reflection always equals the angle of incidence.

 

When the angle of incidence is almost perpendicular to the interface, the light escapes from the stone and is bent away from the normal. This is called refraction.

 

Light striking a gem interface is either totally reflected or it is refracted depending on the angle of incidence.


The precise angle where the change occurs from reflection to refraction is called the critical angle and is different and specific for each gem (or any transparent material)

 

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