A light source, S, is located 2.9 m below the surface of a swimming pool and 1.7 m from one edge of the pool. The pool is filled to the top with water. At what angle does the light reaching the edge of the pool leave the water?

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  1. First you need to look up the index or refraction for air and water, the two materials in which the light will travel and refract.

    Air has a refractive index of N2 = 1.0003, and water has a refractive index of N1 = 1.333. I use index 2 for air because it is the second medium the light passes through; water is the first.

    The angle of incidence A1 for the light beam in the water is tan^-1 1.7/2.9 = tan^-1 0.5862 = 30.37 degrees.

    The last step is to use Snell's law:
    N1 sin A1 = N2 sin A2

    Solve for the angle of refraction, A2

    Sin A2 = 0.5057*(1.333/1.0003)= 0.6739
    A2 = ?

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