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The Nature of Light and Colour in the Open Air (Dover Books on Earth Sciences) [Paperback]

M. Minnaert
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1, 1954 0486201961 978-0486201962 New edition

Rainbows, mirages, multiple moons, black snow, colored shadows, irridescent clouds, halos, green surf, and hundreds of other natural phenomena are clearly and simply explained in this unique book by Professor Minnaert of the University of Utrecht. Written with complete lucidity, it is a book not only for astronomers, physicists, and geographers, but also for artists and photographers and for anyone else who would like to know more about how to observe and understand the strange behavior of light and color in nature.
The author shows just how, when, and under what conditions to observe the fata morgana (a complex mirage in the form of a city in the sky), the scintillation of stars and planets, apparent motion in shadows and objects due to air currents, color changes due to refraction and reflection, illusions of motion and direction, effects of rapidly moving spokes, the changes in color and light due to eclipses of the sun and moon, magnificent colors on a frozen window pane, or an extended body of water, the deceptive appearance of objects beneath the surface of water, and many other such phenomena.
The theory explaining most of these effects is given in ordinary language only occasionally supplemented by elementary mathematical demonstrations. In addition, Professor Minnaert has included 202 illustrations (including 42 photographs) covering practically every phenomenon discussed. These illustrations make hundreds of details explicit so that you can identify them at sight and try the experiments outlined.

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The Nature of Light and Colour in the Open Air (Dover Books on Earth Sciences) + Simple Working Models Of Historic Machines (MIT Press Classics)
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Earth Sciences
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (June 1, 1954)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486201961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486201962
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #601,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars scientific optical classic in an economy edition June 26, 1997
By A Customer
It is impossible to truly review this book. Well over its 40 years old, it has become a classic. It attempts to explain, with little math but excellent science, everything we see from the appearance of the horizon, to the rainbow, to the light shining of telephone cables. This edition is old fashioned in appearance, there are no fancy full color spreads. It is a well written book, clearly organized that shows a grasp of the subject and a deep affection for it
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Hundreds of optical phenomena visible to the naked eye are described in this classic text, ranging from colors in rainbows, halos, "sun-dogs" and other effects from water droplets and ice crystals in the atmosphere, to the iridescent colors of an oil spill and the visual effects of wet branches in front of street lamps. Explanations are aimed at the layman. Many line drawings and some b+w photographs accompany the sometimes wonderfully old-fashioned text. If you have ever wondered what some of the puzzling optical effects are that you see outdoors, then this book is for you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a wonderful book November 29, 2007
My father gave me a copy of this when I was a kid. I've kept it ever since. The book is very easy to read, with plenty of line illustrations to explain the optics with as little math as possible. Though one will find some mathematics in the work, anyone who has taken high school physics, algebra, and geometry will have no trouble understanding the material. But what makes this work really shine is Minnaert's attention to detail when explaining the many kinds of behavior light exhibits in various environments. Everything from iridescence, refraction and reflection is given deep explanation through many examples of everyday phenomena. What the viewer might think of as distinct and separate optical effects, the author cleverly shows to be related. By the time a layperson finishes this work he or she will have a very good basic understanding of optics. Certainly well enough to ace that section of any undergraduate physics exam.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, thought provoking read. July 27, 2007
I couldn't put this book down!
As he explains the many fascinating sky and optical phenomena, Minnaert basically forces the reader to figure out for themselves as they read along with his explanations. It's very rare for a science book to pull together the big picture without losing sight of the underlying physics. This book wonderfully shows the workings of a scientist's mind, and the author's enthusiasm and creativity is infectious. Astronomers, artists and anyone with a passion for the beauty of the outdoors will love this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Beyond the standard 18-degrees-down-Sun definition of astronomical twilight, Minnaert pioneeringly gives the night sky background's appearance when the Sun is even further down, to -24 degree level, which I call Bortle-1 twilight, for pristine conditions. Throughout the book there are similiar extensions to and detailing of familiar and not-so-familiar optical phenomena day, night, and twilight outdoors, helping anyone to better interpret what one sees and what to look for. Many of these best features are edited out of the modernized, "colorized" (!) edition, which is why I recommend the original with its black-and-white mostly line drawings. As so well expressed in this book, twilight is a most dramatic, dynamic time to be outdoors taking in the marvellous, changing-color sky.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars old but important November 9, 2006
I met this book while studying the work of the artist James Turrell; Turrell mentioned it because of his huge importance on the facts concerning the psychology of vision.

Maybe some theories appear now old, but it remains a fundamental text for understanding how we look at the world (and at the sky!), and - quoting Mr. Turrell - for beginning to "see ourselves see". For example, you will now understand why the moon seems somethimes very big or very small.

I higly recommend also Craig Adcock's book about James Turrell, because it gives many other scientifical (not to speak about artistical!) inputs about the matter.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Huh?
This was listed under light and color for kids. I downloaded it for my daughter's science project. She is 8. She read it and came asking questions about what the words meant. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Suzue
2.0 out of 5 stars Something lost in translation
There is nothing very deep in this book. Maybe something was lost when they put it into English. He says a lot of things like; When you look at a shadow on the ground the light... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Michael D Johnson
2.0 out of 5 stars bland and monochrome
The technical content of this Dover reproduction is extensive, with enough equations to satisfy any student of optical physics, but the book is entirely monochrome. Really Dover? Read more
Published 15 months ago by Jordan Hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
Fantastic book, a classic. Essential for anyone interested in rainbows, halos, and many other effects produced by light.
You will get amazed and learn a lot while having fun.
Published on July 8, 2012 by Kaban
1.0 out of 5 stars Great Idea for a book...Poor Execution
The book makes an attempt to cover every single possible phenomenon that has to do with light and the outdoors. Read more
Published on December 2, 2007 by this art guy
4.0 out of 5 stars Still up to date fascinating book
Explains many of the phenomena occuring in nature regarding both light and colour. Encourages active exploration by yourself. Good reference work but sometimes long.
Published on March 12, 1999
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