How is reflection different from refraction?

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Reflection and refraction are terms commonly associated with light. There are a number of differences between the two, such as:

  • Reflection takes place when light bounces off a surface (say the surface of a plane mirror). Refraction, on the other hand, takes place when light moves from one medium to another.
  • In the case of reflection, the light stays in the same medium. In the case of refraction, light ray goes from one medium to another (say air to water, etc.).
  • The angle of incidence and reflection is equal in the case of reflection. In the case of refraction, the angle made by light ray changes as the ray goes from one medium to another and we say that the light has been refracted.
  • Reflection is commonly observed with mirrors, while lenses are commonly associated with refraction.
  • An example of reflection is our image in a mirror. It is upright, has our size and is about the same distance away from the mirror as we are. When we look into a water surface, our image appears different, in terms of height, distance from surface, etc. This is because of refraction.

Hope this helps. 

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