Abstract

Systematic errors appearing in astronomical polarization measurements in the range of one percent and less are expected to be partly due to the telescopes used in making the measurements. A 6-parameter description of possible telescope polarization effects is proposed which can be reduced to a 4-parameter description in the practical case in which the telescope is to be used only for relative intensity measurements. The 4 parameters can be represented as 2 which describe the elliptically polarized telescope eigenstates, and 2 which are the relative phase-shifts and the ratio of absorptions of the orthogonal eigenstates. The effects of the telescope are presented in a 4 × 4 transformation matrix which transforms the Stokes parameters of the incident beam into those of the emergent ray. The empirical determination of the telescope parameters, the correction of polarization measurements once the parameters are known, and the problem of establishing stellar sources of known polarization for use in calibrating telescopes is discussed. No estimates of the magnitude of the possible effects are attempted.

© 1963 Optical Society of America

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