The Color of the Sun - Perception and Spectral Density

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© 2018 American Association of Physics Teachers. The peak position of the spectral density for blackbody radiation is given by the Wien displacement law. Within introductory physics materials it is often stated, or implied through example, that the color of the light emitted from a blackbody, such as the Sun, can be ascertained from knowledge of the position of that peak in the spectral density. Such a conclusion is at best incomplete, may be misleading, and in many ways can be considered to be wrong. Here these claims are addressed and a method for introducing and better understanding spectral density is presented. For concreteness, the discussion centers around the solar spectrum, which is often used as an example in physics and astronomy classes.

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Physics Teacher