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The BBC's Virgin Galactic: Sir Richard Branson rockets to the edge of space includes the image below.

Much of the Unity spacecraft appears (almost) transparent in this image; you can see the blue sky right through it. Why?

Unity soars into the New Mexico sky (Virgin Galactic via BBC)

Unity soars into the New Mexico sky (Virgin Galactic via BBC)

Here at apogee the spacecraft now looks white:

Screen shot from embedded video in the BBC article. Caption: the moment Sir Richard Branson's rocket plane reached its highest altitude

Screen shot from embedded video in the BBC article.

The moment Sir Richard Branson's rocket plane reached its highest altitude

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    $\begingroup$ It's shiny. Very, very shiny. $\endgroup$ Jul 12 at 3:15
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    $\begingroup$ It doesn't look "transparent"; Wonder Woman isn't involved. It looks blue. $\endgroup$ Jul 12 at 5:08
  • $\begingroup$ @RussellBorogove okay let's do some word mincing. When I look out my window at the sky during the day, I often see blue light. But I do not say "the glass looks blue" because my brain understands what "transparent" is. In this case large areas of the spacecraft have the same color as the sky in the rest of the image. That's just what would happen for transparent airplanes as you point out. Let's look to a good answer post to sort this all out. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 12 at 5:12
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    $\begingroup$ An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are driving through the Scottish highlands in the winter, and passed a flock of sheep in a snowfield. The engineer looked out of the window and said "Look! Scottish sheep are white!" The physicist said, "No, no. Some Scottish sheep are white." The mathematician looked irritated. "There is at least one Scottish field, containing at least one sheep, which is transparent." $\endgroup$ Jul 12 at 5:21
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Much of the Unity spacecraft appears (almost) transparent in this image; you can see the blue sky right through it.

This is absolute nonsense; you cannot see the sky through Unity's airframe. It is opaque.

The upper surface of Unity is indeed painted mainly white.

The underside appears to be painted in a dark blue and black iris-and-pupil design, providing contrast for the "Virgin" logo in white.

enter image description here

enter image description here

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Oh my, so much downvoting just for naivete! What this question is about is called aerial perspective. It's commonly seen with mountains, because they can be quite far from the observer:

(image source)

Of course, the mountains don't become more transparent the farther they are, they are just behind a thick layer of air that scatters sunlight into the observer and thus masks the objects behind it.

In fact, this is the same effect that makes lunar maria look blue instead of their normally gray/brown color:

(image source: a post by Dan Finnerty at DPReview)

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