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(IAAC) color preception and culture



It may be worth noting, in light of the numerous recent postings
re:Albeiro, that our division of the spectrum into 7 colors (Roy G Biv
and all that) it purely a cultural construct. Other cultures divide up
the spectrum differently, in at least one case, in as few as 2 "colors".
This doesn't mean that other cultures don't recognize the difference
between say, red and orange, but merely that they have the same basic
term for both colors. They probably use modifiers, much as we might call
one color "brick red" and another "fire engine red."
Of course, specialists such as artists, etc., in any culture may have a
specialized vocabulary to describe in more detail color differences.
And perceptions of such differences will in fact depend, at least in
part, on one's upbringing as well as formal training. In spite of the
somewhat humorous nature of the postings about Crayola, it is entirely
possible that people who did have one of the larger sets may have
developed a different sense of color than those who had a more limited
set.
Some disciplines have developed color charts that can be visually
compared to some item and the color reported in some formal, often
numerical, manner. Unfortunately, I cannaot readily think of how this
can be applied to visual astronomy, since it requires a direct
side-by-side comparison between the object and chart. Maybe it might be
possible (but probably not cheap) to produce a miniature chart that
would be installed in an eyepiece like a reticle. Then one could report
that one member of a double star system was color 1-b and the other 3-d,
or something like that.
William Schart
(Anthropology major)

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