Saturday, September 04, 2004

Sardonyx, damson and smalt

Tom clues us into supposed differences in color perception between males and females.

As a lifelong sky watcher, I see stars as reddish, yellowish, whiteish or bluish, and that's about it.

The celebrated British observer William Henry Smyth professed to see stars the color of sardonyx, damson and smalt (you can look those up). He listed a dozen shades of white, including pearly, lucid, creamy, silvery, and just plain whitely white.

The Russian-German astronomer Wilhelm Struve invented a Latin classification system for star colors that would make a paint chip namer blush, including olivaceasubrubicunda for pinkish-olive.

Am I deficient in color perception -- or merely imagination?