What kind of atmosphere would a planet need to alter the color of the sun and moon? I know this is rather broad, but I know that a certain gas in our atmosphere colors the sky blue, and gives the sun a yellow tint. So, what kind of gases, and how much of them, would be required to alter the coloration of the sun to red?


This is actually a common event right here on earth. You don't need to alter the actual chemistry of your atmosphere for this, you just need to have lots of particulates in the atmosphere. On earth this is usually caused by smoke from wildfires or volcanoes, or by dust storms.

If there's a reason you can't rely on particulates for this, then you'd need to have an atmosphere consisting of significantly heavier elements than ours does, which by extension would require MUCH higher pressures and temperatures, so if this is a planet that humans are supposed to be able to live and breathe on without safety equipment, I'm not sure that'll work for you.

  • $\begingroup$ That's very helpful. I was hoping there might be an alternative way, rather than relying on particles. In the world itself, a person from our Earth is able to be twice as strong, and weigh half as much as a person from that world. $\endgroup$ – Wolfgang Yharnum Aug 19 '18 at 22:59
  • $\begingroup$ Do persons from our Earth need to be able to breathe this atmosphere? $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 19 '18 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. The main character is of our world. $\endgroup$ – Wolfgang Yharnum Aug 20 '18 at 3:36
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, then particulates are REALLY the only viable option. Anything else that would create the 'red sun' light scatter you're describing would render the atmosphere extremely hostile to your protagonist. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 20 '18 at 3:39

in researching a similar question for my own stories, I found argon has the coloration I was looking for, while still being a common enough element in our own atmosphere to facilitate human habitation. it isn't really the atmosphere that has the color anyway. Like the depth of the ocean and the algae living there on you get green water Ie. much of the Atlantic ocean, and blue water, much of the pacific ocean, though there are exceptions to the rule. it's really the depth of the ocean(s) that give the color attributes the farther down the floor of the ocean is, the darker the color of the water over it. So to is the atmosphere. the air is clear, what we attribute as color is actually the light refraction of deep space through our atmosphere. this can be seen on the surface depending on the altitude of the land mass. those at or below sea level have more intense colors of sky whereas higher altitudes have paler colored skies. Hope this helps.

  • $\begingroup$ If I may, what kind of coloration were you looking for? But, I do find this helpful. Is there anything that could really create what I'm looking for without compromising the setting too much? There are many deep forests, high mounts, and expansive hills in this world, a condensed Europe if you will. $\endgroup$ – Wolfgang Yharnum Aug 23 '18 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ my color will be light lavender to the deepest violet at twilight. I chose argon because it was already in our atmosphere. Krypton, and yes there is such a gas, is almost pure white, while neon is red, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Atmosphere_gas_proportions.svg here's a list. also, I figured a little extra shouldn't effect human too much, if I don't alter the other ratios of gasses too much. I just looked up atmosphere then follow the trail from there. I knew I wanted a purple sky though! :-) sadly I wasn't the first to have the idea though $\endgroup$ – Vani Joy Aug 23 '18 at 2:52
  • $\begingroup$ Almost all ideas are already taken, it's the author's job to make it their own. Thanks for the help, I think I'll play a little bit with the atmosphere. Do you know what might happen if there is high Neon levels in the atmosphere and high energy is pushed through the air... say, like lightning? $\endgroup$ – Wolfgang Yharnum Aug 24 '18 at 2:35
  • $\begingroup$ I'm sorry I couldn't say. I'm not a scientist :-) $\endgroup$ – Vani Joy Aug 24 '18 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ That's cool. I just learned today that it could possibly create an Aurora. If an Aurora is just energized neon I believe. $\endgroup$ – Wolfgang Yharnum Aug 25 '18 at 4:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.