A point O (fig. 6) at a finite distance from the, axis (or with an infinitely distant object, a point which subtends a finite angle at the system) is, in general, even then not sharply reproduced, if the pencil of rays issuing from it and traversing the system is made infinitely narrow by reducing the aperture stop; such a pencil consists of the rays which can pass from the object point through the now infinitely small entrance pupil.

It is seen (ignoring exceptional cases) that the pencil does not meet the refracting or reflecting surface at right angles; therefore it is astigmatic (Gr. a-, privative, stigmia, a point). Naming the central ray passing through the entrance pupil the axis of the pencil or principal ray, it can be said: the rays of the pencil intersect, not in one point, but in two focal lines, which can be assumed to be at right angles to the principal ray; of these, one lies in the plane containing the principal ray and the axis of the system, i.e. in the first principal section or meridional section, and the other at right angles to it, i.e. in the second principal section or sagittal section.

We receive, therefore, in no single intercepting plane behind the system, as, for example, a focusing screen, an image of the object point; on the other hand, in each of two planes lines O' and O" are separately formed (in neighboring planes ellipses are formed), and in a plane between O' and O" a circle of least confusion.

The interval O'O", termed the astigmatic difference, increases, in general, with the angle W made by the principal ray OP with the axis of the system, i.e. with the field of view. Two astigmatic image surfaces correspond to one object plane; and these are in contact at the axis point; on the one lie the focal lines of the first kind, on the other those of the second. Systems in which the two astigmatic surfaces coincide are termed anastigmatic or stigmatic.

It is seen (ignoring exceptional cases) that the pencil does not meet the refracting or reflecting surface at right angles; therefore it is astigmatic (Gr. a-, privative, stigmia, a point). Naming the central ray passing through the entrance pupil the axis of the pencil or principal ray, it can be said: the rays of the pencil intersect, not in one point, but in two focal lines, which can be assumed to be at right angles to the principal ray; of these, one lies in the plane containing the principal ray and the axis of the system, i.e. in the first principal section or meridional section, and the other at right angles to it, i.e. in the second principal section or sagittal section.

We receive, therefore, in no single intercepting plane behind the system, as, for example, a focusing screen, an image of the object point; on the other hand, in each of two planes lines O' and O" are separately formed (in neighboring planes ellipses are formed), and in a plane between O' and O" a circle of least confusion.

The interval O'O", termed the astigmatic difference, increases, in general, with the angle W made by the principal ray OP with the axis of the system, i.e. with the field of view. Two astigmatic image surfaces correspond to one object plane; and these are in contact at the axis point; on the one lie the focal lines of the first kind, on the other those of the second. Systems in which the two astigmatic surfaces coincide are termed anastigmatic or stigmatic.

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