Dust, smoke and pollution particles diffuse moonlight through the atmosphere to make it appear orange, red or yellow as the heavenly object rises or sets above the horizon. The atmosphere is thicker when viewing objects along the horizon rather than overhead, which also makes objects appear redder and larger. NASA calls this a moon illusion because the moon never actually changes color.
When sunlight deflects off the moon and hits the Earth, particles in the atmosphere scatter light on the blue end of the rainbow spectrum. Redder light passes through the atmosphere, giving the moon an orange or reddish appearance close to the horizon. As the full moon is high above close to midnight, it seems to be white and smaller. When seen from outer space, the moon doesn't change color due to atmospheric conditions.
Another theory as to why the moon seems orange is because of light's convergence at the back of the human eye. Trees and houses in front of a rising or setting moon give the object an appearance of being larger. The concept is known as a Ponzo illusion in which train tracks seem to come to a point far in the distance. Another illusion to human perception is that the sky appears flat, when in reality, it is spherical.Learn More
Scientists believe that lunar maria formed from lava flows caused when the surface of the moon was disrupted by the impacts of gigantic meteors and comets. Maria is the plural of "mare," which is Latin for sea. One of the most famous of the lunar maria is the Sea of Tranquility, which was the site of the first moon landing.Full Answer >
A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth passes between the moon and the sun. Lunar eclipses cast a shadow on the moon due to the Earth's location. From the perspective of the moon, the Earth completely blocks the sun.Full Answer >
It takes the moon 27.3 days to make one revolution around the Earth, traveling at a speed of 2,300 miles per hour. The moon takes the same amount of time to make a full rotation on its axis, according to National Geographic.Full Answer >
Six Apollo missions, specifically Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17, landed on the moon between 1969 and 1972. Apollo 13 was also supposed to land on the moon but failed to do so due to a spacecraft malfunction.Full Answer >