Demonstration of the Airy disk using photography and simple light sources

Kenneth Trantham, Timothy J. Reece

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A procedure for observing diffraction from a circular aperture using photography equipment and commonly available light sources is presented. Commonly called the Airy pattern, such a diffraction pattern is characterized by a central bright spot, with concentric bright and dark rings. The images obtained in this procedure are suitable for discussing and demonstrating Rayleigh's criterion in introductory physics classes. It is shown that the patterns observed change as expected with wavelength and aperture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)928-934
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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