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Reflection of Light

When light strikes a mirror it bounces off. When you see the image of your face in a mirror, you are seeing the reflection of light from your face.
 
When a beam of light from one medium is incident on the surface of another medium, a part of it is returned back into the same medium. The part of light which is returned back into the same medium is called the reflected light. Thus, the bouncing of light from the surface is called reflection.
 
The amount of light that is reflected depends on the nature of surface.

Regular and Irregular Reflection

Reflection of light is of two kinds depending on the nature of the reflecting surface—regular reflection and diffused or irregular reflection.

When the reflecting surface is smooth and polished, a parallel beam of light that falls on it is reflected in a definite direction. Such a reflection is called a regular reflection (Figure 9.1).

 

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Figure 9.1 Regular Reflection

 

If the reflecting surface is rough and unpolished, a parallel beam of light that falls on it is scattered in all directions. This is called an irregular or diffused reflection (Figure 9.2).
 


 

To understand reflection, let us define some of the terms related to reflection.
 
Incident Ray A ray of light from a source striking a surface is called the incident ray.
 
The Point of Incidence The point at which the incident ray strikes the reflecting surface is called the point of incidence.
 
The Reflected Ray The ray of light obtained after reflection from the surface is called the reflected ray.
 
Normal The perpendicular drawn to the reflecting surface at the point of incidence is called normal.
 
Angle of Incidence The angle between the incident ray and the normal at the point of incidence is called the angle of incidence. It is denoted by the letter i.
 
Angle of Reflection The angle between the reflected ray and the normal at the point of incidence is called the angle of reflection. It is denoted by letter r.
 
Plane of Incidence The plane containing the incident ray and the normal at the point of incidence is called the plane of incidence.
 
Mirror A smooth, highly polished surface is called a mirror. One surface of the mirror is made opaque by silvering, followed by a thin coat of lead oxide paint.
 
Mirrors are of two types:
  1. plane mirrors and
  2. spherical mirrors.
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