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

The solely total lunar eclipse of the year will gentle up the sky this Wednesday (May 26), when the full moon (a supermoon attributable to the satellite tv for pc’s nearness to Earth) passes via Earth’s shadow. During the so-called Super Flower Blood Moon lunar eclipse, the face of the moon will turn a brick-red hue.

The fiery glow is the most dramatic of the three varieties of lunar eclipses (the different two are known as partial and penumbral). In addition, perfection is a should: A total lunar eclipse occurs solely when the solar, Earth and moon are completely lined up. 

When the moon tiptoes into the outer portion of Earth’s shadow, changing into completely bathed in the darkest a part of that shadow, why is not the consequence a “lights out” for the sky? Why as an alternative does the moon grow to be engulfed in a light-orange to blood-red glow?

Related: Total lunar eclipse Wednesday will make supermoon turn blood red

Here’s why: Picture your self standing on the moon (a number of mud and craters at your ft), wanting down on Earth during the spectacular night-sky occasion. When the Earth is immediately in entrance of the solar — blocking the solar’s rays from lighting up the moon — you’d see a fiery rim encircling the planet. 

“The darkened terrestrial disk is ringed by every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all at once,” in accordance with NASA. Even although our planet is way larger than the solar, our residence star’s gentle bends round the edges of Earth. This gentle will get mirrored onto the moon.

But not earlier than it travels via our ambiance, which filters out the shorter-wavelength blue gentle, leaving the reds and oranges unscathed to wash the moon’s floor. And voila, a red moon.

The moon will change numerous shades during completely different phases of a total lunar eclipse, going from an preliminary grayish to orange and amber. Atmospheric circumstances can even have an effect on the brightness of the colours. For occasion, further particles in the ambiance, resembling ash from a giant wildfire or a latest volcanic eruption, might trigger the moon to look a darker shade of red, in accordance with NASA. 

The moon does not at all times conceal fully behind Earth’s shadow. During partial lunar eclipses, the solar, Earth and moon are barely off of their alignment, and so our planet’s shadow engulfs simply a part of the moon.

A novice skywatcher won’t even discover the third kind of lunar eclipse, the penumbral form, wherein the moon sits in Earth’s penumbra, or its faint outer shadow.


Wednesday’s total lunar eclipse is predicted to be seen in Australia, components of the western United States, western South America and Southeast Asia, in accordance with timeanddate.com. Other areas of the world, together with the complete U.S., will be capable of see not less than some phases of the lunar eclipse, together with its partial and penumbral phases.

As for the different varieties of lunar eclipses, the subsequent three penumbral eclipses will happen on May 5–6, 2023, March 24–25, 2024 and Feb. 20–21, 2027, in accordance with timeanddate.com. The subsequent total lunar eclipse, anticipated to be seen from components of Asia, Australia, a lot of North America, South American, the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, and Antarctica, in accordance with timeanddate.com, will happen on May 15–16, 2022.

Editor’s Note: This article was first printed in 2016 and up to date for the Super Blue Blood Moon lunar eclipse of 2018 and once more in 2021.

Original article on Live Science.

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