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What color is the Moon?

What color 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 colors of the full moon documented by one astrophotographer over 10 years from different locations across Italy. A red or yellow colored 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-colored 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. — All photographed by Marcella Giulia Pace at different places in Italy in a time span of 10 years.

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  • John Venlet November 30, 2020, 10:02 AM

    A couple of those moon photographs make the moon sort of look like cheese. If you’re interested in learning how the moon came to be referred to as being made of cheese, allegedly it’s from an old Serbian tale of a fox and a wolf.

    The other night, while peering at the moon through the telescope with my granddaughters, the moon appeared in color most closely to the ninth photo in that moon wheel, starting from the pinkish moon and working inward.

  • Jack December 1, 2020, 1:03 PM

    I love the moon and its affect upon the earth. I’ve seen it from the deck of a Navy aircraft carrier at night on a completely blacked out ship and I’ve also seen the Milky Way in the same setting. Out there, alone on that massive deck with no noise except the sound of wind across the bow and the noise of moving water as the ship ploughs through the oceans I have read books by the light of the Moon and the Milky Way. In its own way it’s a Holy experience for those of us who served and have seen it.