Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2020 November 11
Explanation: What colour is the Moon? It depends on the night. Outside of the Earth's atmosphere, the dark Moon, which shines by reflected sunlight, appears a magnificently brown-tinged gray. Viewed from inside the Earth's atmosphere, though, the moon can appear quite different. The featured image highlights a collection of apparent colours of the full moon documented by one astrophotographer over 10 years from different locations across Italy. A red or yellow coloured moon usually indicates a moon seen near the horizon. There, some of the blue light has been scattered away by a long path through the Earth's atmosphere, sometimes laden with fine dust. A blue-coloured moon is more rare and can indicate a moon seen through an atmosphere carrying larger dust particles. What created the purple moon is unclear -- it may be a combination of several effects. The last image captures the total lunar eclipse of 2018 July -- where the moon, in Earth's shadow, appeared a faint red -- due to light refracted through air around the Earth. The next full moon will occur at the end of this month (moon-th) and is known in some cultures as the Beaver Moon.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.