What colour is Sunlight?

Whatever colour you answered (except for Black) – you are (at least partly) right!

Unlike the Mnemonic that gives seven colours in a rainbow – ROY.G.BIV – for Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet (which is Sunlight being broken up by multiple raindrops into the constituent colours of ‘white’ light), as you can see here EVERY colour is represented. Name a colour and you can find it here.

lovewillbringustogether - Spectrum

The image is from a cut glass ‘teardrop’ crystal hanging in my kitchen window that has refracted the different wavelengths of light just ever-so-slightly differently onto the back wall of my kitchen making a spectrum around 20-25 cm long (8-10 in) 🙂 The window faces South and so only ever catches the sunlight at the beginning and end of high Summer days.

Scientists such as Astronomers and Astrophysicists or Cosmologists call our Sun a ‘Yellow Star’ as it gives off the greatest amount of visible light energy in the yellow region, but it still gives off light energy down into the infra red and ultra violet (and beyond) regions also. When light of roughly equal intensity over many wavelengths hits the back of our eyes we ‘see’ the combination of colours as white. It is the ‘whiteness’ that allows us to see our world in many reflected colours; if our Sun only had one colour of light we would only see things in two colours – the one of sunlight (yellow maybe) and black.

Which leads me to an unusual fact: Almost everything we see has no intrinsic colour – it simply reflects or transmits a very specific frequency of sunlight’s colour (or man-made light source) into our eyes. It does not possess that colour in itself !

It is for this reason that fish and other brightly coloured objects look very dull at depth under our oceans – until a bright light is shone on them. Only a blue or greenish colour is reflected from them as the water above scatters most of the longer wavelengths of Sunlight.




    • I love that i get a reminder of it every sunny evening during December to February! Besides the long spectrum in my photograph i get some 10-20 smaller ‘rainbows’ making patterns over half the kitchen – magical! 🙂 (The crystal rotates so the patterns on the walls go through a cycle).


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