NASA's put out a semi-CGI video of a Ceres flyby using material from the Dawn mission.

Now I realise that visibility is relative, even on Earth: I can walk into my basement and not be able to see anything until I've stood there for a few moments letting my eyes adjust. But I'm wondering, since Ceres is so far from Earth, and despite the images we see beamed back from spacecraft, if I were on a spacecraft in orbit of Ceres, facing the side of Ceres that faces the Sun, would I be able to see its surface with the naked eye? Or is sunlight too dim at that distance to do the job on its own?

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    $\begingroup$ If you are outdoors at night with a clear star sky you can see the ground and should have no problem walking safely and quickly across unshadowed terrain. I suppose evolution has made that a requirement. That's not much different on the night side of Ceres or anywhere in open space. Daytime at Ceres enjoys more than 1/10th of Earth's sunlight, much stronger than the full moon under which one can read a book. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 10:01

1 Answer 1


Ceres is 2.76 AU away from the sun, so the sunlight is seven times weaker. That is comparable to the levels of illumination 30 minutes before sunset on Earth, so you are not going to have any problem seeing the surface.

The albedo of Ceres is quite low, comparable to worn asphalt. But it is still easy to see it.

worn asphalt


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