Science: The Bright Earth

How bright is the earth as seen from space? In the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Meteorologist Alan E. Slater decides that it is quite a bright planet, although rather blue.

The albedo (brightness) of the earth depends on the amount of sunlight that it reflects, and this figure cannot be determined accurately by looking up from the surface. Even rockets shot above the atmosphere get too limited a view, and the dry southwestern part of the U.S., where most rockets have been fired, is certainly not typical.

The best way to estimate the earth's overall albedo is to measure the brightness...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!