What Does the Sun Look Like in Space? A Complete Visual Guide

Have you ever wondered what does the Sun looks like in space, or up close?

Getting an up-close view of the massive, glowing orb that gives life to our planet can be difficult from our vantage point on Earth.

Join me on an illuminating journey as we uncover the Sun’s fiery composition and swirling, dynamic surface in vivid detail.

The Sun’s Composition and Internal Structure

internal structure of the sun
Photo By PMF IAS

The Sun is composed primarily of hydrogen and helium gas. Under extreme pressure and heat, nuclear fusion converts this gas into energy. This gives the Sun its bright glow. The Sun’s core reaches temperatures over 15 million degrees Celsius—hot enough to melt metal. From the core outwards, the Sun transitions to less dense plasma and a turbulent surface we see from Earth.

Viewing the Sun from Earth Orbit and Nearby Planets

earth's view of the sun
Photo By Eurek Alert

From Earth’s orbit around the Sun, we get an obscured view—our atmosphere scatters the Sun’s light. But from space, we can see the Sun in all its glory. The International Space Station orbits Earth at just the right distance to see sunspots and solar flares. Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, so it endures intense radiation—temperatures can reach 800°F! The Parker Solar Probe is the closest manmade object, giving us unmatched photos and data on the Sun’s corona.

Observing the Sun from the Outer Solar System

solar system
Photo By I Love The Universe

What does the Sun look like in space? As we venture farther out into the solar system, the Sun appears smaller and fainter. From Jupiter, the Sun is 1/25th as bright as on Earth. At Saturn, it’s 1/100th as bright. By the time we reach Pluto and beyond, the Sun is just a distant point of light.

But thanks to visiting spacecraft, we’ve seen remarkable views of our home star from these faraway worlds. The New Horizons probe captured unforgettable images of the Sun from Pluto’s perspective—a tiny pinprick illuminating the blackness of space.

How the Sun Appears to Change Based on Distance and Location

picture of the sun
Photo By Love The Night Sky

From our vantage point on Earth, the Sun’s appearance shifts subtly throughout the day and across the seasons. Its size seems to grow larger near sunrise and sunset as atmospheric distortion comes into play. The Sun’s elevation also changes based on latitude, with locations nearer the equator experiencing a more directly overhead Sun. The farther north or south you travel from the equator, the lower in the sky the Sun will appear at noon.

And in the far northern and southern latitudes, the Sun even disappears below the horizon for months at a time. From the Moon or in space, our star would look brighter and harsher, without Earth’s softening atmosphere. The Sun’s face also changes, with sunspots and solar flares coming and going in 11-year cycles. So while the Sun itself is unchanging, our shifting perspective makes it seem anything but static.

Key Features Visible on the Sun’s Surface

Photo By Space

The Sun’s surface is constantly active, with features that evolve over days or weeks. Sunspots appear as dark patches, resulting from areas of intense magnetic activity that inhibit convection. They come and go in 11-year cycles. Bright patches called faculae also dot the Sun’s face. These form around concentrations of magnetic flux lines.

The entire surface is granulated with rising columns of hot plasma. Prominences arch up in dramatic loops, following magnetic field lines. These are anchored to the Sun but can sometimes break free as coronal mass ejections. The amount of activity speaks to the dynamic, restless nature of our star. Its familiar face is always changing when viewed up close.

Interesting Facts About the Sun’s Appearance in Space

solar flare
Photo By Exploratorium

The Sun’s appearance from space reveals its true nature. Its surface seethes with a churning plasma, threaded by shifting magnetic fields. This convection causes a granular texture like bubbling water. Sunspots appear darker because they are up to 2,000°F cooler than the 10,000°F surface. Their number varies in 11-year cycles.

Bright faculae cluster around concentrations of magnetic flux lines. Arching prominences of plasma, anchored magnetically, dance above the surface. Sometimes they break free in dramatic coronal mass ejections that can affect space weather. The Sun’s activity never ceases, with new features constantly emerging, evolving, and disappearing. This changing face reflects the dynamic forces within our star.


What Does the Sun Look Like in Real Life in Space?

The sun appears as a bright, glowing orb surrounded by the blackness of space. It emits intense visible light and heat. The sun’s surface appears mottled with lighter and darker areas due to convection currents and sunspots on its photosphere. The sun’s corona, the outer atmosphere, is faintly visible extending millions of miles into space during a total solar eclipse.

Can We See the Sun in Space?

Yes, the sun can be seen in space. Astronauts in orbit around the Earth experience daylight when the spacecraft is positioned facing the sun. The sun appears brighter in space because there is no atmospheric filtering of sunlight. Care must be taken not to look directly at the sun to avoid eye damage.

What Color Is the Sun Actually in Space?

The sun’s visible light appears white to the human eye, with a slightly yellowish tint. This is the sun’s natural color. The yellow hue is a result of the sun’s surface temperature of about 5,500°C, which causes it to emit more yellow and orange wavelengths of visible light.

What Shape Is the Sun in Space?

The sun’s shape in space is a nearly perfect sphere. Being composed of plasma and gas, the sun does not have a solid surface, so it takes on a spherical shape due to gravity’s effect. The sun’s rotation causes it to bulge slightly at the equator, making the diameter about 10 km greater at the equator than at the poles. Overall though, the sun is quite close to a perfect sphere.


In conclusion, the sun appears as a glowing, yellowish-white orb surrounded by the blackness of space when viewed from space. It has a mottled surface and a faint outer atmosphere. The sun is spherical in shape due to the effect of gravity on its gaseous composition. Understanding what the sun looks like in space provides insight into our closest star and its properties. Overall, the sun is a stunning celestial object, unlike anything witnessed on Earth. What does the sun look like in space? It appears as a brightly shining sphere illuminating the solar system.

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