What Color is the Sun?

As They Might Be Giants might reming us, “The sun is a mass of incandescent gas / A gigantic nuclear furnace / Where hydrogen is built into helium / At a temperature of millions of degrees.” But what color is it? Yellow? Guess again. Here’s more from Science Focus:

The Sun emits light over a whole range of wavelengths (or colours). In fact, it does so in all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, apart from gamma rays. The peak in the Sun’s spectrum can be used to derive its surface temperature, about 5,780 Kelvin (roughly 5,500°C). The same process can be used to establish the surface temperatures of the stars.

The peak wavelength in a spectrum also generally determines an object’s apparent colour. So, for example, cooler stars appear red and hotter stars appear blue, with orange, yellow and white stars in between. For the Sun, the spectrum actually peaks at a wavelength that we would normally describe as green.

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1 Comment

  1. So… if the sun looks yellow to us here on earth due to the way the atmosphere scatters different light wavelengths, does that mean that the sun appears white to astronauts outside of our atmosphere? For example, did it appear white to those who walked on the moon?

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