Home / AMERICAN NEWS / Why does the moon change colors?

Why does the moon change colors?

Why does the moon change colors exactly?

As previously reported, the first total eclipse to be visible throughout the U.S. since December 2012 will occur on April 15.  It will reportedly peak at about 3 a.m. EDT and be visible from the Americas, Australia and out over the Pacific Ocean.

It will also signal the beginning of a lunar eclipse tetrad—a chain of 4 consecutive total eclipses happening at approximately six month intervals.  There will be additional total eclipses again October 8, 2014, a second on April 4 2015 and a third on September 28, 2015.

Before answering the question “Why does the moon change colors?” let’s first review some basics.  A lunar eclipse occurs when our planet’s shadow blocks the light of the Sun which would otherwise reflect off the moon.  There are three different kinds of lunar eclipses—partial, penumbral and –the most phenomenal– the total eclipse during which Earth’s shadow covers the moon.   One needs no more than the naked eye to see them from anywhere on the night side of Earth.

Now why does the moon change colors?  According to sources such as WindowsToTheUniverse, the moon reportedly appears to be different colors during different times of the year.

why does the moon change colors

Blood Red Moon

Why does the moon change colors?  Why do we sometimes have a blood red moon?

The blood red moon soon to appear in the night sky looks red because red light is generally more visible while other colors in the spectrum are usually blocked and scattered by the planet’s atmosphere.

Websites such as Space.com point out that the actual color that the moon appears to be is reliant on the quantity of “dust and clouds the atmosphere.”   NASA scientists note: “If there are extra particles in the atmosphere, from say a recent volcanic eruption, the moon will appear a darker shade of red.”

Harvest-Moon-Why does the moon change colors?  Why do we sometimes have an orange moon?

In the fall we often are treated to a Harvest Moon which appears to be orange.  While some online bloggers joke the moon changes to orange for Halloween the real reason is obviously a bit more plausible albeit less entertaining.  The real answer involves Earth’s climate and the path of the moon.

Throughout the year the moon rises and sets at different angles.  Sometimes it is quite low and never rises overhead.    The planet’s atmosphere also changes throughout the year.  For example, some months there are more cloud particles than usual and excess particles equal more light scattering.

During the fall months, farmers are harvesting their crops.  This disturbs a significant amount of dust from the crop soil.  This dust rises into the atmosphere.

The fall moon is also lower in the sky.  The proximity of the moon to the planet and the additional dust particles in the sky combine to “color” the moon orange.  Hence, we have the phrase “Harvest Moon” and now you know why the moon changes colors.

Why does the moon change colors?

 (Image courtesy of WallpaperHDNew and HarvestMoonFestival)

About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.