The application potential of remotely sensed optical imagery is boosted through the increase in spatial resolution, and new analysis, interpretation, classification, and change detection methods are developed. Together with all the advantages, shadows are more present in such images, particularly in urban areas. This may lead to errors during data processing. The task of automatic shadow detection is still a current research topic. Since image acquisition is influenced by many factors such as sensor type, sun elevation and acquisition time, geographical coordinates of the scene, conditions and contents of the atmosphere, etc., the acquired imagery has highly varying intensity and spectral characteristics. The variance of these characteristics often leads to errors, using standard shadow detection methods. Moreover, for some scenes, these methods are inapplicable. In this paper, we present an alternative robust method for shadow detection. The method is based on the physical properties of a blackbody radiator. Instead of static methods, this method adaptively calculates the parameters for a particular scene and allows one to work with many different sensors and images obtained with different illumination conditions. Experimental assessment illustrates significant improvement for shadow detection on typical multispectral sensors in comparison to other shadow detection methods. Examples, as well as quantitative assessment of the results, are presented for Landsat-7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus, IKONOS, WorldView-2, and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) 3K Camera airborne system.