What color is the Sun?

If you ask an ordinary person the question “What color is the Sun?” then, most likely, without much hesitation, he will call yellow. This is the shade we can see when the sun is high in the sky.

At the same time, at dawn and at sunset, red and orange colors begin to prevail in the color scheme of the Sun. This is due to the peculiarities of the scattering of sunlight in the earth’s atmosphere. If we go beyond it, and look at the Sun again (of course, using all the necessary means of protection), then we will see that it has a white color. This is its true visible color.

Sunrise in Africa. Source: Tom Post

Someone may be confused by an obvious contradiction — the Sun has a white color, but at the same time it is classified by astronomers as a yellow dwarf. But in this context, “yellow” is determined by the results of photometry of the star. To the human eye, the Sun looks like a blindingly bright white ball. This is how astronauts see it during space flights. 

Photo of the Sun from the ISS. Source: NASA

But the yellow color of the Sun is so familiar to our daily experience that even space agencies like NASA and ESA prefer to use it to designate the sun on their official infographics, diagrams and concepts. The same can be said about space movies, TV series and computer games, where the Sun is also usually painted yellow.

Photo of the Sun from the ISS. Source: NASA

As you know, in the future the Sun will turn from a yellow dwarf into a red giant. However, even here the commonly used name can mislead us a little. The temperature of the visible surface of the red giants is close to the temperature of the incandescent lamp spiral. Therefore, for the human eye, such a star will not appear red, but rather an ochre-yellowish hue.

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