Due to some debating last weekend on the differences between visual, true color, and false color in astronomy, I decided to make an animation using my images to show their differences [OC]

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Why is True Colour called True Colour? Surely the term is somewhat misleading, if that isn’t what a person would see if looking at an unedited image? I really think technical terms need to be very, VERY carefully vetted, in this day and age, to ensure that no layperson/expert misunderstandings can occur, when communicating these ideas. Also, I don’t think it is wise in the modern era, to say “Well, these terms are things you have to learn to navigate the information provided” or worse, “These terms are for use by professionals to talk to other professionals”. Terminology needs to adapt to the fact that laypeople have more access to information and more need of it for that matter, than ever before in human history. The whole thing needs opening up, rather than mystified by such confusion! 😛


This shouldn’t be accepted as fact. True color should literally be true color. That may mean enhancing contrast or brightness to mimic natural human visual adjustment, but ramping up the saturation automatically makes it not true color anymore. Red is not the same color as pink. These words and phrases are not currently well defined. But when you go around calling a deliberately kaleidoscopic rendering of a planet “true color” just because the actual hue values haven’t changed, that obviously makes the phrase less precise. The photo of the moon this “debate” was about didn’t look anything like the moon. It was totally doctored for dramatic effect. I mean… we all already can see the moon in real life. We know what “true color” looks like. That image would not be seen by anyone in any physical position. There’s no sensible definition of “true color” that would fit that image.