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What is a word for viewing angle? For example,

The color of a birefringent surface varies with angle you look at it from.

It would be something like attitude or aspect.

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I would expect an author to use "viewing angle"... what's wrong with that? –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Nov 7 '11 at 7:07

6 Answers 6

Perspective, view point, or point of view. "Point of view" has become a common term. I've seen the acronym POV used in various instances, particularly film direction.

I just recognized the scientific context of your question so I'd like to amend my answer slightly. If the original "viewer" can represent something other than human, then "Angle of attack" might be appropriate. This is a term used in medical imaging to describe positioning.

When taking radiographs for instance, one attempts to position the x-ray generator and detector plate in perfect alignment within the same plane. If either the plate or the generator tilts before or during the exposure, the image will be affected and the radiologist who reviews it may determine the image was poor because the "angle of attack" was not perfect.

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+1 for "Perspective" –  aitchnyu Nov 7 '11 at 8:16

If it's a technical topic I would go for the more precise term over the most fluid prose.

Viewing angle or 'angle from the normal' would be correct, point of view, perspective, etc would either lead to confusion by experts if there is already a specific meaning for the term or by everyone else if they are left wondering if your 'perspective' is the same as the 'angle of view' they learnt somewhere else

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+1 important point. "Perspective" works better in more figurative or metaphorical contexts. –  Karl Knechtel Nov 7 '11 at 0:06

Perspective

a visible scene, especially one extending to a distance; vista: a perspective on the main axis of an estate.

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Tracey O got it posted before I did. When "a new answer has been posted" appears, next time I'll look at it. –  gregnotcraig Nov 7 '11 at 0:03
    
Unfortunately in computer graphics perspective usually refers to orthographic vs perspective projection –  bobobobo Nov 7 '11 at 4:46

In physics, an angle of incidence is the angle of deviation from something straight on. It doesn't only apply to LOOKING at thing away from straight on, but that does fit well within its definition.

For example, the corrective power of glasses is a result of the angle of incidence, rather than the glass being some kind of magnifying glass. The glasses refract the light entering towards your eyes (because it's thicker on the ends and thinner towards the middle) and therefore changes the angle of incidence by which you perceive the world.

Wikipedia also notes:

When dealing with a beam that is nearly parallel to a surface, it is sometimes more useful to refer to the angle between the beam and the surface, rather than that between the beam and the surface normal, in other words 90° minus the angle of incidence. This angle is called a glancing angle or grazing angle. Incidence at small grazing angle is called "grazing incidence".

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I agree with 'perspective' as others have said for the specific instance you cited.

In general, though, I think that viewing angle by itself is pretty commonly used, especially for TVs and computer monitors.

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How about "vantage"? It is not as precise as "viewing angle" but it is a single word that encompasses the quality of one's view of a subject.

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