What is atmospheric refraction? Use this phenomenon to explain the following natural events:
Advanced sun-rise and delayed sun-set.
Draw diagrams to illustrate your answers.
The sunrise is advanced because of the atmospheric refraction of sunlight. An observer on the Earth sees the Sun two minutes before the Sun reaches the horizon. A ray of sunlight entering the Earth's atmosphere follows a curved path because of atmospheric refraction before reaching the Earth. This happens because of a gradual variation in the refractive index of the atmosphere. For an observer on the Earth, the apparent position of the Sun is slightly higher than the actual position. Hence, the Sun is seen before it reaches the horizon.
The increased atmospheric refraction of sunlight occurs also at sunset. In this case, the observer on the Earth continues to see the setting Sun for two minutes after the Sun has dipped below the horizon, thus delaying the sunset. The advanced sunrise and delayed sunset increase the duration of the day by four minutes.