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In order to estimate directional variation of gap fraction over a high dense maize canopy, a geometric optical and radiative transfer (GORT) model was improved to simulate the hemispherical gap fraction, the model was validated by a crane borne experiment using a narrow FOV thermal infrared camera conducted at night. The research revealed that the path length is a function of canopy geometrical structure, view direction and position, which leads to the row effect on hemispherical gap fraction: azimuthal variation of gap fraction is insignificant except for the observations parallel to the rows. For dense canopies, the value of gap fraction declined quickly in small view zenith rather than in large view zenith range, which leads the curves to show a concave shape. The experiment was conducted at 22 h local time on July 26 in 1999 (LAI=5) for the validation. At the time, brightness temperatures of leaves and soil had Gaussian distribution, their mean values presented a significant difference (24.3°C and 26.5°C) comparing to their small standard deviations (0.52 degC and 0.44 degC), gap fraction could be discriminated from canopy background. Observations showed that most gaps appeared between the adjacent rows, which lead the high dense canopy still to keep row feature in thermal infrared images. As conclusion of the comparison, the model could capture the main features of the measured gap fraction. With a proper adjustment of input leaf optical parameters, the simulated gap fraction showed a fairly good agreement with observed gap fraction.