Breakdown: How the sun is actually a rainbow

BREAKDOWN: What color is the sun?

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The obvious answer is yellow, right? Well there is more to the color of our sun than meets the naked eye.

First things first, it is NEVER a good idea to stare directly into the sun, so do not attempt that. When you see the sun set or see a reflection of it in an object it looks a yellow to orange color. Earth's atmosphere affects the way we see the sun on earth! Let's break it down.

Every object emits a wave of energy, the portion of this that we can see by the human eye is called the electromagnetic spectrum also called "visible light". There are other forms of waves, but we cannot see those in the air. When you calculate the suns wavelength or visible light, it emits energy around 500 nm, which is close to blue-green on the visible light spectrum. So that means the sun is actually green! Well, the answer is more complicated that just that.

In reality, the sun emits all colors, when you mix all colors together you actually get white. That means if you are in space, seeing the sun without the effects of Earth's atmosphere, that means the sun would be perceived as white due to our eyes, they only have a three-color cone cell receptor, these report to the brain, and each receptor is saturated with color being received at all visible wavelengths. Our brain will integrate the signals and gives us a what color that we would see in space. It is when the sun is viewed from Earth when colors get skewed.

Our atmosphere is made up of various particles and materials, as the sun rises and sets each day, the various colors of the spectrum is scattered by the atmosphere. Shorter wavelength colors such as, green, blue and violet are scattered out by the atmosphere. That leaves the longer wavelengths such as reds, oranges and yellows. Some say that enough of the cool colors are scattered out of the suns output that it is perceived to be yellow!

What do you think? What color to you perceive the sun to be? Whether it is green, white or yellow, the sun plays an important role in keeping Earth supportive of life.

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