They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but most of what exists in the Solar System is lumps of grey or brown rock and dirty ice. Colour is a rare and precious commodity in outer space where black is everywhere. 

Many heavenly bodies are monochrome, and the smaller moons and asteroids are rather uninspiringly potato shaped. So in this section of the page we must look to the more spectacularly coloured and patterned, and the more appealingly formed, objects in space.

First I would mention Io, illustrated above (and below). Io is one of the largest moons of Jupiter, and the closest to the planetary surface. It is one of the strangest moons in the solar system, but in this short section, my concern is simply with its colour. Io is colourful. It looks for all the world like a giant pizza a yellow moon daubed with splashes of rust-reds and oranges and some darker areas. 

Blue is an unusual colour in space, but the outer gas giant planet Neptune is a bright mid-blue hue, The globe is fairly uniform in colour, but with occasional darker blue patches with a few wispy white clouds. 

The giant planet Jupiter is unlike any other in appearance. The atmosphere of Jupiter comprises gaseous swirling bands of browns and oranges and creamy whites bands which have a subtle beauty in their lacey patterns unmatched by other planets. 

One planet stands alone in the Solar System for uniqueness of form. Most people would without equivocation consider Saturn the most graceful heavenly body of all. Saturn's glorious ring system entranced astronomers for centuries, before its intricacy was revealed in all its full finery by the Voyager space missions. 

But which is the most spectacular? The ringed planet undoubtably is a true wonder of the Solar System. Having said that, look behind the rings and Saturn is actually - beige! Jupiter's colourful bands are in pastel shades, but there are brighter colours in the Solar System. Blue Neptune is one of the more attractive objects, but there is another planet of much richer blues, contrasting with more brilliant white..... 

There is one heavenly body which boasts the richest, deepest sapphire blue and the whitest snowy swirls of cloud. A closer view reveals bright greens on the surface below the clouds, colours unparalleled elsewhere in the Solar System - it is a veritable gem stone suspended in the blackness of space. It's called EARTH. 

If there is any doubt about Earth's rightful place in this section of the essay, look at the big photo at the bottom of the page.


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