6A65.20 - Chromatic Aberration

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Chromatic Aberration
Spherical and Chromatic Aberration
Area of Study:
Optics Table, 30 cm focal length lens, 48 cm focal length lens, and Slide Projector (Distant Light).

Chromatic Aberration - Use the slide projector as a distant collimated light source.  Place the 30 or 48 cm lens in the optics rail and focus onto the paper screen.  On one side of the focal point there will be a red ring at the outer edge of the image, and a blue ring on the other side of the focal point.

A CD or DVD without a silvered coating may be used as an unconventional lens which has a large amount of chromatic aberration.  Use the overhead projector or a slide projector as the light source and hold the CD or DVD near a screen to see the focal point and the chromatic aberration around it.

The large Fresnel lens held in front of the output beam of the overhead projector will show a very large chromatic aberration quite easily.  Move the lens forward and backward in the beam to show the chromatic aberration on a large screen.


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  • R. G. Jordan, "Playing Around with Achromatic Pairs", TPT, Vol. 39, #2, Feb. 2001, p. 102.
  • Ronald Edge and E. R. Jones, "Why Do Red and Blue Lines Move in Opposite Directions?", TPT, Vol. 22, #7, Oct. 1984, p. 462.
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  • David Grossman, "How One Mathematician Solved a 2,000-Year-Old Lens Problem", Popular Mechanics, Vol. 196, #8, Nov. 2019, p. 24.
  • "O-380. Color Filters and Carousel", DICK and RAE Physics Demo Notebook.
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  • C. Harvey Palmer, "Experiment A9: Logitudinal Chromatic Aberration and Secondary Spectrum", Optics - Experiments and Demonstrations, John Hopkins Press, 1962.
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  • Joseph Frick, "#169 - Chromatic Aberration", Physical Technics: Or, Practical Instructions for Making Experiments in Physics and the Construction of Physical Apparatus with the Most Limited Means", p. 198.

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