Periscopes - What is a Periscope?

A periscope is an optical instrument that uses a system of prisms, lenses, or mirrors to reflect images through a tube.

Light from a distant object strikes the top mirror and is then reflected at an angle of 90 degrees down the periscope tube. At the bottom of the periscope, the light strikes another mirror and is then reflected into the viewer’s eye. The simple periscope in Figure 1 uses only flat mirrors as compared to the periscopes used on submarines, which are usually a complex optical system using both lenses and mirrors.

Figure 1. Simple ray diagram of a periscope

Source: AZoOptics

Date Added: Jan 28, 2008 | Updated: Oct 3, 2014
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