What Makes the Sun Appear Orange?

All that blue light you see in the sky during the day is just scattered sunlight.

Why does our sun appear orange? originally appeared on Quora, the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Our Sun is white, and it would look white if you looked at it from space.

The atmosphere scatters sunlight, especially light of shorter wavelength, i.e., blue light. So the Sun appears slightly orange-ish as a result. The missing blue light isn’t really missing at all, it’s what makes the sky blue! All that blue light that you see from the sky during the day, that’s just scattered sunlight.

As for other stars, I am a city boy, and like you, I thought for a long time that stars were white. Until one clear, moonless summer night, in a remote place far from cities, I looked up at the sky after my eyes fully adapted to darkness. And… the sky was full of color! There were orange stars, red stars, blue stars, green stars, you name it.

The reason for this has to do with the biophysics of our eye. When the light is faint, we are unable to see color. So when you look at the night sky and your eyes are not fully adapted to darkness, you see the stars as faint point sources of light with no discernible color. But the color is there (and can also be seen in color astrophotographs). And yes, light from a star is scattered just the same as sunlight, so if you were to look at a nearby star with the same color temperature as the Sun, after your eyes adapted to darkness, it would have the same slightly orange-ish color as the Sun.

This question originally appeared on Quora. More questions on Quora:

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