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How Interesting – The Sun

Sometimes what appears to be obvious is actually not. We all know that the Sun is yellow/orange in colour, right? Well, it depends on how you ‘literally’ look at it. Save for a very few of us who have travelled into space, we all see the Sun from our position on Earth. Here are a few photos of what the Sun looks like from our perspective.

Essentially, the colour we perceive the Sun to be is not the colour the Sun actually is. Now, take a closer look at the second and third photos. To the surprise of most people, the Sun is actually WHITE.  Most of us know that when white light passes through a Prism, it separates into the visible spectrum of the rainbow. The yellow, orange and red colours have faster wavelengths and the blue indigo and violet colours have slower wavelengths. When the white light from the Sun enters the atmosphere, the slower wavelengths are easily scattered and the faster wavelengths are not. This is why the Sun appears to be a yellow/orange colour. As can be seen in the photos above, when the Sun gets closer to the horizon, more of the slower wavelengths are scattered making the Sun look more reddish. When the Sun is higher in the sky less of the slower wavelengths are scattered, making the Sun look whiter. On a side note, the scattering of the slower bluish wavelengths is what makes the sky appear to be blue in the daytime.

Images of the Sun, as taken from space, proves that the Sun is actually white. Without the Earth’s atmosphere to scatter the blue lights, the Sun’s true identity is revealed.

Venus transiting across the Sun.
Photo taken from the space shuttle Endeavor.


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