- Plural of horizon
The horizon (Ancient Greek ὁ ὁρίζων, /ho horídzôn/, from ὁρίζειν, "to limit") is the apparent line that separates earth from sky.
More precisely, it is the line that divides all of the directions one can possibly look into two categories: those which intersect the Earth's surface, and those which do not. At many locations, the true horizon is obscured by nearby trees, buildings, mountains and so forth. The resulting intersection of earth and sky is instead described as the visible horizon.
Appearance and usageFor observers aboard a ship at sea, the true horizon is strikingly apparent. Historically, the distance to the visible horizon has been extremely important as it represented the maximum range of communication and vision before the development of the radio and the telegraph. Even today, when flying an aircraft under Visual Flight Rules, a technique called attitude flying is used to control the aircraft, where the pilot uses the visual relationship between the aircraft's nose and the horizon to control the aircraft. A pilot can also retain their spatial orientation by referring to the horizon.
In many contexts, especially perspective drawing, the curvature of the earth is typically disregarded and the horizon is considered the theoretical line to which points on any horizontal plane converge (when projected onto the picture plane) as their distance from the observer increases. Note that, for observers near the ground, the difference between this geometrical horizon (which assumes a perfectly flat, infinite ground plane) and the true horizon (which assumes a spherical Earth surface) is typically imperceptibly small, because of the relative size of the observer. That is, if the Earth were truly flat, there would still be a visible horizon line, and, to ground based viewers, its position and appearance would not be significantly different from what we see on our curved Earth.
In astronomy the horizon is the horizontal plane through (the eyes of) the observer. It is the fundamental plane of the horizontal coordinate system, the locus of points which have an altitude of zero degrees. While similar in ways to the geometrical horizon described above, in this context a horizon may be considered to be a plane in space, rather than a line on a picture plane.
Distance to the horizonThe straight line of sight distance d in kilometers to the true horizon on earth is approximately
d = \sqrt,
where h is the height above ground or sea level (in meters) of the eye of the observer. Examples:
- For an observer standing on the ground with h = 1.70 m (average eye-level height), the horizon appears at a distance of 4.7 km.
- For an observer standing on a hill or tower of 100 m in height, the horizon appears at a distance of 36 km.
To compute the height of a tower, the mast of a ship or a hilltop visible above the horizon, add the horizon distance for that height. For example, standing on the ground with h = 1.70 m, one can see, weather permitting, the tip of a tower of 100 m height at a distance of 4.7+36 ≈ 41 km.
In the Imperial version of the formula, 13 is replaced by 1.5, h is in feet and d is in miles. Examples:
- For observers on the ground with eye-level at h = 5 ft 7 in (5.583 ft), the horizon appears at a distance of 2.89 miles.
- For observers standing on a hill or tower 100 ft in height, the horizon appears at a distance of 12.25 miles.
The metric formula is reasonable (and the Imperial one is actually quite precise) when h is much smaller than the radius of the Earth (6371 km). The exact formula for distance from the viewpoint to the horizon, applicable even for satellites, is
- d = \sqrt,
where R is the radius of the Earth (note: both R and h in this equation must be given in the same units (e.g. kilometers), but any consistent units will work).
Another relationship involves the arc length distance s along the curved surface of the Earth to the bottom of object:
Solving for s gives the formula
The distances d and s are nearly the same when the height of the object is negligible compared to the radius (that is, h<<R).
As a final note, the actual visual horizon is slightly farther away than the calculated visual horizon, due to the slight refraction of light rays due to the atmospheric density gradient. This effect can be taken into account by using a "virtual radius" that is typically about 20% larger than the true radius of the Earth.
Curvature of the horizonFrom a point above the surface the horizon appears slightly bent. There is a basic geometrical relationship between this visual curvature \kappa, the altitude and the Earth's radius. It is
- \kappa=\sqrt\ .
horizons in Arabic: خط الأفق
horizons in Asturian: Horizonte
horizons in Aymara: Chhaqachhaqa
horizons in Bulgarian: Хоризонт
horizons in Catalan: Horitzó
horizons in Czech: Horizont
horizons in Danish: Horisont (geografi)
horizons in German: Horizont
horizons in Spanish: Horizonte
horizons in Esperanto: Horizonto
horizons in Galician: Horizonte (xeografía)
horizons in Korean: 수평선
horizons in Croatian: Obzor
horizons in Bishnupriya: হোরিজোন্টে
horizons in Indonesian: Horizon
horizons in Icelandic: Sjóndeildarhringur
horizons in Italian: Orizzonte
horizons in Lithuanian: Horizontas
horizons in Hungarian: Horizont
horizons in Malay (macrolanguage): Horizon
horizons in Dutch: Horizon
horizons in Japanese: 地平線
horizons in Norwegian: Horisont
horizons in Polish: Horyzont
horizons in Portuguese: Horizonte
horizons in Romanian: Horizonte
horizons in Quechua: Pachapanta
horizons in Russian: Горизонт
horizons in Albanian: Horizonti
horizons in Simple English: Horizon
horizons in Slovak: Obzor (Zem)
horizons in Slovenian: Obzorje
horizons in Serbian: Хоризонт (астрономија)
horizons in Serbo-Croatian: Horizont (astronomija)
horizons in Swedish: Horisont
horizons in Thai: ขอบฟ้า
horizons in Turkish: Ufuk
horizons in Chinese: 地平線