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Why does the moon turn red during a total lunar eclipse?



Several times per decade, the moon goes through the Earth's shadow, changing the color from white to "blood" red. What causes it to change color during a total lunar eclipse?

A Total Moon A solar eclipse occurs when the moon falls directly through the innermost shadow of the earth and can be seen on the half-sphere for several hours.

  Evergreen Solar Eclipse

Although the moon goes through the earth's shadow, it does not get dark. Instead, the moon appears rusty red or dark red.

This color change can be attributed to the light falling through the Earth's atmosphere.

"The red portion of the sunlight passing through the Earth's atmosphere is preferably filtered and channeled into the shadow of the earth, illuminating the darkened moon and making it appear red or" bloody "," said Caleb Scharf, director of Astrobiology at Columbia University

Another way to visualize this color change is to imagine standing on the surface of the moon during a total lunar eclipse. If you look at the earth, you would see every sunrise and every sunset on earth at the same time.

  Moon of the Lunar Eclipse Animation Moon

This new color the Moon assumes is how the Lunar Eclipse earned the Bloodmoon nickname.

"Bloodmoon" is not a term in astronomy. It's more of a popular phrase, maybe because it sounds so dramatic. It simply refers to a "total lunar eclipse," the old farmer's Almanac reported.


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The prediction of the color of the moon during a lunar eclipse can be difficult and is determined by certain conditions in the Earth's atmosphere.

"The exact color the moon displays depends on the amount of dust and clouds in the atmosphere," NASA's website says.

"When there are extra particles in the atmosphere, the moon will be shown a darker shade of red, as in a recent volcanic eruption," NASA reported.

  Lunar Eclipse

A rare celestial occurrence as the Super Blue Blood Moon & # 39; s seen at Santa Monica Beach, Santa Monica, Calf., Wednesday, January 31, 2018. (AP Photo / Ringo HW Chiu)

Regardless of the color the moon shows, the lunar eclipses are one of the lightest celestial events that can be observed in the night sky, as long as there are no cloudless conditions.

Total lunar eclipse usually lasts for several hours and is visible over much of the world so that millions of people can see. The moon turns red every time.

"It's one of the best astronomical events to witness without equipment, and we know exactly when it's going to happen," said Dave Samuhel, AccuWeather meteorologist and astronomy blogger.


Questions or Comments? Send Brian Lada an email to Brian.Lada@accuweather.com and follow him on Twitter!

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