What does the sun look like from Earth? No need to wonder ― we can simply gaze skyward and see its glowing disk from our orbital perch 93 million miles away.
What does the sun look like from other planets? Given the vast and disparate distances, it’s not so easy to imagine. But digital renderings just created by Ron Miller, a Virginia-based illustrator who has spent decades depicting outer space, help answer that tricky question. They show the sun as it appears in the sky of each of the eight planets (along with our favorite dwarf planet, Pluto).
To make the renderings realistic, Miller had to figure out how big to make the sun in each image ― but that wasn’t especially difficult to do.
“The only important thing to know is how far one is from the sun,” he told The Huffington Post in an email. “If, for instance, you are 20 times further away from the sun than the Earth, then the sun will be 20 times smaller.”
And as the inverse square law tells us, the intensity of light from an object falls off with the square of the distance. So, for example, sunlight is about 900 times dimmer on Neptune than on Earth because Neptune is about 30 times farther from the sun (30 x 30 = 900). So maybe skip the sunscreen.
But why mess with math when you can scroll down to see Miller’s starkly beautiful images...
The sun as seen from Mercury, which is about 36 million miles from the sun or 39 percent of the distance from Earth to the sun. On Mercury, the sun looms about three times larger than it does on Earth.
The sun as (almost) seen from Venus, which is about 67 million miles from the sun (72 percent of the distance from Earth to the sun). Seen from beneath Venus’ dense, sulfuric acid-laden clouds, the sun is no more than a dimly glowing patch in the perpetual overcast. If it could be seen, it would be about half again larger than it appears in Earth’s sky.
Earth is 93 million miles from the sun. At this distance, the sun covers an area in the sky about half a degree wide. The moon covers the same area. This means that when the moon passes between the sun and our planet, we are treated to a solar eclipse like the one shown here.
The sun as seen from Mars, which is about 142 million miles from the sun. Since Mars is one-and-a-half times farther from the sun than Earth is, the sun appears correspondingly smaller in the planet’s dusty sky.
The sun as seen from Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. Jupiter is about 484 million miles from the sun, or about 5.2 times farther than the distance from Earth to the sun. Here we see Jupiter about to eclipse a sun five times smaller than the one we see from Earth. Sunlight passing through the planet’s dense atmosphere illuminates it in a ring of red light.
The sun as seen from Saturn, which is about 888 million miles from the sun. That's about 9.5 times farther than the distance from Earth to the sun. Here, crystals of water and gases including ammonia refract the sunlight, creating beautiful optical effects such as haloes and sundogs. Although sunlight is about 100 times dimmer on Saturn than on Earth, the sun would still be far too bright to look at without eye protection.
The sun as seen from Ariel, one of Uranus's moons. Uranus is about 1.8 billion miles from the sun, or about 19 times farther than the distance from Earth to the sun.
The sun as seen from Triton, one of Neptune's moons. Neptune is about 2.8 billion miles from the sun. That's about 30 times farther than the distance from Earth to the sun. Clouds of dust and gas spewing from one of Triton's powerful cryogeysers are partially obscuring a tiny sun, now but one-thirtieth the size as seen from Earth.
The sun as seen from Pluto, which has an average distance from the sun
of about 3.7 billion miles. That's about 40 times the distance from Earth to the sun. From here, the sunlight is 1,600 times dimmer than on Earth. Still, that's 250 times brighter than a full moon here on Earth -- bright enough to outshine every other object in the sky and hard to look at directly.