What would the planets look like to the naked eye of a space traveller?

Some time ago I read a comment on this forum that surprised me, it was pointed out that all those bright colourful images of the outer planets would not look like that at all to someone looking directly at them from a spaceship window due to the distance from the sun for the outer planets, naturally enough they have been brightened and made more colourful for press release purposes.

So I was wondering what the planets would actually look like if some hypothetical space-traveller was visiting them directly?

This video is kind of along those lines but while the artist has tried to present true-colour images they seem to also have been brightened in the pictures.

The problem is that the human eye is extremely sensitive. You’ve probably had the experience of seeing something that looked.amazing, and taking a photograph of it, but the photo looks washed out and doesn’t show the details and colors you saw with your eyes.

So no.photograph can show what you would really see. Go out on a dark night and you can see trees and sky and stars, try taking a photograph and you just get a black screen.

That makes sense, thank you.

We can get an idea of what would be seen by looking back at Earth.

From low earth orbit, we see mostly clouds and vague outlines of continents where they are cloud-free.

From the moon, we get the blue and white marble.

From Mars we see a dot.

Other planets would resolve the same way depending on the distance the viewer is. There would be less sun, but the gas giants are much larger, so some of the effect balances. Mostly, though, closeness is critical.

Depends on the distance. Mostly nothing, at interstellar travel distances.

The most distant photo of Earth (the Carl Sagan initiated one) taken from just outside the close orbit of Pluto shows nothing but the ‘pale blue dot’. Without it being identified as the dot halfway down in the rightmost brown band, most people would never see it. And that’s at a really close interstellar distance – already on a landing approach, really.

Visual science fiction (TV shows, games, etc.) often uses NASA images for backgrounds to make space look more impressive, but they’ll usually take something the size of FDR’s eye on a dime held at arm’s length, as photographed through a long-exposure telescope with false-color filters, and blow it up until it fills half the sky. Really, from most places, space looks about the same as what you see when you look up at night.

Thanks for the answers everyone, I should clarify, I meant what would say Jupiter look like to the naked eye if you were orbiting around it or passing very close by. Someone on the SD said you wouldn’t see very much at all because there is so little sunlight out there.

The ambient sunlight at Jupiter is still brighter than what we would consider a well-lit room. Our eyes really do have a very impressive dynamic range.

Yeah, big enough telescopes can get good visual-light images of Jupiter from the Earth’s surface.

They look about like the classic photos- Saturn is kind of banded yellow, Mars is rust-colored with white polar caps, Jupiter is white/brown bands, with the Big Red Spot, Neptune is blue, Uranus is kind of turquoise, etc…

What’s interesting is that some of the probes have taken visual spectrum images of some of the planetary moons- Io, for example is bright yellow, while most of the other moons are kind of similar looking to our moon.

I just wanna mention that if we can we we can see the planet from here on Earth without visual aids (ie telescopes. light-gathering 'scopes with big-ass mirrors), chances are you will see the plantet/object quite easily (inverse-square law of intensity and all. etc). Chances are that those further out will still be readily visible, but not so from Earth (due to the inv-sq law, per se).

I stand free to be corrected as necessary, of course. IANAAstronomer…

Do you live in the northern hemisphere? If so, go outside before the sun rises and face the south. Slowly lift you gaze and you will see a very bright “star” and a more faint star close together. The bright “star” is actually Jupiter and its companion is the star Spica. Observe how bright it is against the cold black of space. Now imagine you were in low orbit. The view would be impressive.

Actually, if you go out right now (early Feb 2017) around 6-7 o’clock PM CST, you can see Mars and Venus in the NE sky fairly close together.

Even all the way out at Pluto, despite appearing smaller than a dot, the Sun still appears much brighter than a full moon here on Earth, so you’ll have no trouble seeing the landscape.

Where pictures fail to match our vision are nebulae. Sensitive cameras and long exposure times reveal very colorful nebulae, but even up close, most of them would be too faint for the human eye to make out much detail. And they’re so diffuse that even if you were inside one, you’d barely notice.

The colors of nebulae aren’t usually true, either. Color pictures of nebulae (or other astronomical objects) are compositions of multiple pictures taken through multiple filters. You can produce true-color images this way, if you use filters corresponding to the eye’s response to different colors, but most often, astronomers instead use filters that correspond to features of scientific interest: Various elements, or gases at various temperatures, or the like. These are usually translated to the colors the eye can see, for the ease of humans looking at the pictures, and the colors may (or may not) even loosely correspond, but they’re not the same.

You can see some of them with relatively trivial equipment, but they’re generally more of a monochromatic smudge with them, not some kind of gorgeous polychromatic thing like the false-color Hubble images would lead you to believe.

If you look at the Orion nebula through a backyard telescope, and the sky is dark enough, you can make out a faint greenish tint. That’s about it, though.