By Kwesi Billups
Over the course of the semester, I’ve learned a great deal about the theories that have governed humanity’s perception of the world we live in, and the four-dimensional continuum of spacetime. Countless scientists and philosophers have contributed to the discourse surrounding our place in the universe, marking a transition from early intuitive models of space to widely accepted modern mathematical and physical laws that have expanded our understanding of space to include the Big Bang theory and the nebular hypothesis, which, respectively, explain the expansion of the universe and the formation of our solar system.
For the purposes of this project, I’m going to focus relatively close to home. The Solar System is home to The Sun, eight surrounding planets- Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune- the dwarf planet Pluto, satellites like our Moon, and smaller solar system bodies such as comets and asteroids. Many students are taught pneumonic devices and study photo depictions of our solar system to memorize the names of the planets and their order. However, what many people don’t know is that the image we likely picture when we think of each of the planets is wrong. If you Google image search Mars, affectionately know as the Red Planet, you’ll find numerous photos of the planet, with slight to dramatic variations in hue. While the reddish-orange representation of Mars is widely recognized, Mars’ true color is closer to light brown. You may wonder why the scientific community allows inaccurate portrayals of the planets in our solar system to prevail, but the truth is that false colors play a vital role in astronomical imaging. Astronomers enhance images to increase detail and detect variations that a true color image would conceal.
To expand the idea of the usefulness of false color, I’ve depicted my interpretation of the colors of The Sun, its surrounding planets, and Pluto using clothes found in my wardrobe and based upon this false color image of the Solar System.