The true color of the moon is off-white, brown-gray shade due to its dusty surface when illuminated by the sun. However, when observed from Earth, the moon can exhibit various hues, a phenomenon largely influenced by our planet’s atmosphere.
Marcella Giulia Pace, an Italian photographer, has dedicated a decade to studying these lunar color variations. She organized a collection of 48 images to show the moon’s diverse appearances, all recognized to the Earth’s atmospheric effects.
Earth’s atmosphere consists of layers of air that are not uniform throughout. When the moon’s light traverses these atmospheric layers, tiny air particles scatter the light. Blue light scatters more readily than red or orange due to its inherent properties. Consequently, the moon can occasionally appear reddish or orange, especially when it floats near the horizon.
Furthermore, elements such as water droplets, dust, or smoke from wildfires in the atmosphere can alter the moon’s appearance. The colors we observe are dependent on the atmospheric constituents present at that particular moment.
In addition to color variations, the moon’s shape can appear slightly distorted when observed from Earth. This distortion arises because the atmosphere is denser near the surface and progressively thinner at higher altitudes. Consequently, the moon’s light undergoes slight bending as it traverses these atmospheric layers, causing it to appear somewhat flattened rather than a perfect circle when viewed from our vantage point.