When you look at the cartoon depiction of our sun or even the way that it has been illustrated throughout the generations, the color yellow has always been associated with the large burning ball of gas. In fact, we even refer to that bright, happy shade of yellow as ‘sunshine yellow.’ There have been a number of posts circulating the Internet now calling this information into question. The real question – Is there any truth to the claim that the sun is no longer yellow?
While you may read that statement as merely a reference to the actual physical appearance of the sun, we don’t recommend running around looking directly at the sun to confirm. The idea that the ‘sun is no longer yellow’ goes deeper than just the physical appearance before us. There is, however, an element of its appearance to consider.
Let’s start by clarifying something – the sun has never actually been yellow. The sun radiates white light. The Stanford Solar Center website explains it stating, “the sun is essentially all colors mixed together, which appears to our eyes as white. This is easy to see in pictures taken from space. Rainbows are light from the Sun, separated into its colors. … When we see the Sun at sunrise or sunset, when it is low in the sky, it may appear yellow, orange or red. But that is only because its short-wavelength colors (green, blue, violet) are scattered out by the Earth’s atmosphere, much like small waves are dispersed by big rocks along the short. Hence only the reds, yellows, and oranges get through the thick atmosphere to our eyes.” This means that the sun itself is not changing its appearance, what is changing is the atmosphere and how it is separating those colors before they reach our eye.
This is where it may direct our attention to a genuine concern for the human population – the state of the Earth’s atmosphere. Often a key point in discussions of population and environmental concerns, experts point to the impact that the human population has had on the atmosphere around us. Many experts are now pointing to the increase in greenhouse gases, a topic which has been brought up regularly in today’s mainstream media.
Political influencers and world leaders are looking to the impact that greenhouse gases have on the world around us and are taking steps to try to reduce their carbon footprint. Environmental experts are pointing to the high level of damage already done, warning that we are reaching a point of no return. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have actually increased by 38% since 1750!
While the Internet craze claiming the sun is physically changing its appearance may be misleading and factually inaccurate, it raises a very important topic. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves, learn the warning signs of atmospheric issues, recognize our role as a society in perpetuating them and take a stand before it’s too late. The sun may not be changing colors, but the atmosphere protecting us from its dangerous rays is changing and that can have drastic consequences!