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Solid angle subtended by a rectangular plane at any point in the space

*Mr Harish Chandra Rajpoot (B Tech, ME)* 12 sept, 2013


Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology, Gorakhpur-273010 (UP) India
Let there be a rectangular plane ABCD having length l & width b ( ) and a given
point say P (observer) at a distance r from the centre O of the plane
(as shown in the figure below)

Fig: Solid Angle subtended by a rectangular plane at any point P in the space
Now, draw a perpendicular PQ from the given point P to the plane of rectangle ABCD &
join the given point P & the foot of perpendicular Q to the centre O such that
is the angle of inclination of the line OP with OQ (or with the given plane ABCD)
(Also called angle of elevation of the given point P in the space)
is the angle between the line OQ & the reference line*
(Also called angle of deviation of the given point P in the space)
(*Reference line: The line passing through the centre & parallel to the longer side (i.e. AB &
CD) of the given rectangular plane. )
Now, extend the sides AB & CD and draw the lines QK & FE passing through the point Q &
parallel to the sides AB & BC respectively. Extended lines AB, CD, QK & the reference line
intersecting the line FE at the points E, F, Q & L respectively.
In right


Where PQ is the normal height of the given point P from the rectangular plane ABCD
In right



It is clear from the above figure that the solid angle subtended by the rectangular plane
ABCD at the given point P lying on the axis PQ at a normal height


Now, for ease of calculation lets assume


&
Here, we would directly use the formula for solid angle subtended by a rectangular plane of
size at any point lying at a normal height h from any of the vertices given as follows

)(

)
)


*Above result is directly taken from the book which has its derivation & explanation in details.

)(

)
}

)(

)
}

)(

)
}

)(

)
}


Now, on setting the corresponding values we can find the solid angle subtended by the
given rectangular plane ABCD at the point P as follows

.. (1)
We find that the value of depends on the following variables








Case 1: The solid angle subtended by the square plane having each side of length a at any
point in the space can be obtained by putting l = b = a in the above expressions of eq(1) as
follows


& and

) (

)
}

) (

)
}

) (

)
}

) (

)
}


Now, on setting the corresponding values we can find the solid angle subtended by the
given square plane at the given point as follows


Case 2: The solid angle subtended by the rectangular plane at any point lying on the axis
normal to the plane & passing through the centre O is obtained by setting


in the above expressions of eq(1) as follows



&

and


) (

((

)((

)
}


) (

((

)((

)
}


) (

((

)((

)
}


) (

((

)((

)
}

) (

)
}

) (

)
}

) (

)
}

) (

)
}


Now, on setting the corresponding values we can find the solid angle subtended by the
given rectangular plane at any point lying on the axis normal to the plane & passing through
the centre as follows

) (

)
}

) (

)
}

) (

)
}

) (

)
}

) (

)
}


Case 3: The solid angle subtended by the rectangular plane at a point lying on the centre of
the plane is obtained by setting in the above expressions of the
eq(1) as follows


()


()


()


()



& () height and


) (


)
((

()

)((

()

)
}


) (


)
((

()

)((

()

)
}


) (


)
((

()

)((

()

)
}


) (


)
((

()

)((

()

)
}

*+

*+

*+

*+


Now, on setting the corresponding values we can find the solid angle subtended by the
given rectangular plane at a point lying on the centre of the plane as follows


*Its also true for any point lying on the plane inside the boundary of rectangular plane.
Note: Above results have been taken from the book Advanced Geometry by Harish
Chandra Rajpoot copyrighted by the Notion Press publication Chennai, India in December,
2013. ISBN-13: 9789383808151, ISBN-10: 9383808152 (www.notionpress.com)