Fr.: refraction différentielle
A problem encountered in astronomical spectroscopy, which consists of a loss of light from some wavelengths due to → atmospheric dispersion. In simple terms, differential refraction means that at nonzero → zenith distances an object cannot be simultaneously placed at the same position within a → slit at all wavelengths. This problem becomes more important for increasing → airmass, larger → spectral range, and smaller → slitwidths. To remedy this drawback, the slit should always be oriented along a direction perpendicular to the horizon, since differential refraction occurs in that direction.