Sunlight Reflects off a Fish in Water




To find out more about the diagram above . . . . read on!

Sunlight Reflects off a Fish in Water

Look carefully at the diagram at the top of the page. Now check out the following questions (and answers)!

  1. What is reflection?
  2. What is diffusion?
  3. What is incident light?
  4. What is meant by dispersion?
  5. What is incident light?

About the Diagram

Introducing the diagram! Read back and forward between the image at the top of the page and the explanation below!

Have you already checked out An Introduction to Reflection, Refraction and Dispersion?

It is the opening page of our Reflection, Refraction and Dispersion Series and contains masses of useful information. This is the table of contents:


Everything we see in the world is a product of reflection. As light travels through the air it is invisible, but when light that has been reflected off the surface of an object enters our eyes it forms an image that light-sensitive cells react to. Let’s take a close look at the basics of reflection.

When you have reviewed this page, find out more on the following pages:

The diagram

This diagram shows sunlight being reflected off a fish in water and provides a close-up view of what is happening in another of our diagrams: Refraction, Reflection and Total Internal Reflection.

  • The source for the incident rays is sunlight. It this situation the Sun can be considered to transmit parallel rays of light.
  • If each scale on the fishes skin has an uneven surface and causes the rays to scatter as they are reflected this causes diffuse reflection.
  • Diffuse reflection takes place when light is scattered as it reflects off a rough surface. When reflected light scatters randomly it doesn’t produce a mirror-image.
  • Some kinds of fish scales can appear iridescent. Iridescence is the phenomenon produced by certain surfaces that appear to gradually change colour as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes. Other examples of iridescence include soap bubbles, feathers, butterfly wings and seashells. Iridescence is often created by microstructures that interfere with the path of light rays.

Follow the blue links for definitions . . . . or check the summaries of key terms below!

Some Key Terms

Move to the next level! Check out the following terms.

Light source

A light source is a natural or man-made object that emits one or more wavelengths of light. The Sun is ...
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Any material through which an electromagnetic wave propagates (travels) is called a medium (plural media). In optics, a medium is ...
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Reflection takes place when incoming light strikes the surface of a medium, obstructing some wavelengths which bounce back into the ...
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In general terms, light scattering takes place when streams of photons (or waves of light) are deflected in different directions.  ...
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