Is Venus Really Red?

This is how everyone thinks Venus looks like:

Now Venus in True Color:

If colors are estimated correctly, there is a final issue of tone mapping. How bright does the image appear to the eye in a given context. The image above is the best color image of Venus I’ve found, showing the planet as it would likely appear to a human observer in space. It was made by Turkish astronomer A. Tayfun Oner, using the two color channels from the Galileo camera, and a third interpolated channel.


Here is Venus in natural (RGB) light. Unlike many beautiful amateur images that combine IR and UV light to create a false color image, I wanted to create a true color image of this beautiful but difficult planet to image.

Shown are an IR-R-G-B composite where IR is used as a luminance and the RGB channels provide the color and saturation, and the true color RGB composite. Each image combines about 2500 of 10000 frames per channel through the individual filters.

The images were taken on the evening of May 22, 2010 shortly before sunset, while Venus was still at a reasonable altitude (around 40-50 degrees) and in very good seeing.