If, like me, you searched the internet for clear articles and papers that
gave the answer to the Sun's color, you would have found only conflicting
color answers. (In the last few years I am beginning to see some improvements,
but publications have a long way to go.) Since the Sun's actual "true" color
will not importantly change the direction of mainstream astronomy, it seemed
like a great project for an amateur astronomer. But why bother?
Yes. I had, somehow
stumbled into my first internet forum, Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy Board
(it's now www.bautforum.com) after merging with Fraiser Cain's Universe
Today wonderful internet magazine. There are astronomers, physicists,
and lots of characters like me who are active there, and they discuss
hundreds of astronomy topics. For instance, Brendan Ward from Ireland,
and others like him, would joke about the various escapades that we would
come up with in order to discover the Sun's color. Their encouragement
is what kept me going.
After I became active in that forum, which occasionally discussed the
Sun's color, I recall an interested astronomer, and author, Dr. Bill Keel
(U. of Alabama) explaining how he determined the Sun's color while he
was at Kitt Peak observatories (near Tucson) working with stellar spectrums
of stars hotter than our Sun. As Bill told me, "...I overplotted several
of them [hotter stars] on a G2 V [Sun's class] stellar spectrum to see
which one was the best match, the idea being that the visual appearance
of that kind of star down here below the murk would be a good visual proxy
for the Sun seen from space." I was a little perplexed at first at what
he was saying, but it if you don't get it, don't worry. This was still
an approximation, but it was a good one, and his color conclusion turned
out to be correct. What color did he find? Well...
Some of Kitt Peak's 26 observatories
You're kidding, right? Please try again.
No, I had plenty of irons in the fire
and time was a problem. I also feared this would only make me look silly.
Ok, it wasn't all that much fear but I did not need to contribute additional
information demonstrating my lack of knowledge.