The Colour of the Universe: Cosmic Latte

I am currently in the process of compiling a comprehensive list of colour names to provide a basis for other aspects of this project. It has turned out to be quite a major undertaking, involving several thousand words, testing the outer limits of my vocabulary. Due to the number of obscure thrown up by my research I have had to unearth definitions and references for those I am unfamiliar to ensure they are actually colours.

One name on the list which particularly caught my eye was Cosmic Latte. Initially I almost dismissed it as a bit of a joke colour, the kind of colour name dreamt up by a marketing person for a Dulux paint chart. However I put my disregard to one side and Googled it, to find, to my surprise that it had it’s own Wikipedia page. As it happens, as far as colours go, Cosmic Latte is pretty deep, it is the eventual name given to the colour of the Universe.

This milky beige hue represents the average colour of the light in a large chunk of the universe, combining more than 200,000 galaxies. The colour was calculated by Karl Glazebrook and Ivan Baldry, two scientists who were researching star formation. The colour was originally identified as a light turquoise due to an error in the software processing the calculation. The amended result produced Cosmic Latte.

The shade was not initially named until the research generated interest when it was publicised by the Washington Post. Several people sent in suggestions for the name of the colour, which was then voted on by astronomers at John Hopkins University where Karl Glazebrook worked at the time. The other contenders for the title were: Cappuccino Cosmico, Big Bang Buff/Blush/Beige, Cosmic Cream, Astronomer Green, Astronomer Almost, Skyvory, Univeige, Cosmic Khaki, Primordial Clam Chowder, proving that astrophysicists do have a sense of humour. The colour Cosmic Latte was eventually decided upon after Glazebrook noticed it was the same colour as his Starbucks Latte.


About eleanorbydesign

Graduate of MA Graphic Design at London College of Communication

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