Why can't we see objects farther away in mist or fog but we can see closer objects at some rate?

Is that due light can't reach us from farther object to our eyes as they got scattered such a high amount(but how can this much scattering can happen that won't let light from object reach us!!?or can it?) or some other reason?

Why exactly it happen? In detail?


1 Answer 1


Here is a simple way of thinking about this.

Let's say that 5% of the light traveling through one meter of fog is scattered away (by bouncing off droplets of water in the fog) so it doesn't get to our eyes, and 95% still makes it. Two meters gives us (.95 x .95) or about 89%. three meters, and we get (.95 x .95 x .95) or 84%, and so on.

Meanwhile, that scattered light gets re-scattered throughout the volume of fog, which illuminates it from within so rather that appearing dark, it stays light to our eyes.

This means that the farther away something is in foggy conditions, the whiter and less distinct it becomes- until it fades out to white completely.

  • $\begingroup$ And some of that diffuse white light is reflected back into the driver's eyes (assuming car headlights), which tends to "wash out" the reflected light from a distant object. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ yes indeed. -NN $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 16:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Might be worth mentioning why "5% of light travelling through one meter of fog is scattered away." The fog is made of microscopic droplets of liquid, with lots of air between them. Light rays are only scattered if they happen to hit a droplet. The probability of any given ray being scattered in any given length increases as the length increases because there are more opportunities for the ray to meet a droplet. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ @SolomonSlow, will edit. -NN $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 22:02

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