Wildfire smoke in the sky can turn a full moon into an orange or red lantern.
Cloudy skies are visible over large areas of the US and Canada. Atmospheric haze is turning the sunset red and giving the Moon an orange or reddish appearance. This Friday’s full moon can emphasize the unusual color of the Moon.
Here in New Mexico on Wednesday night, I saw a haze-covered moon with a strong orange-yellow hue and a red halo around it. It may look even more dramatic as it has grown in full swing in the smoke-hit areas this Friday.
The July full moon is sometimes called the “buck” moon, a name popularized by farmers’ almanacs. The name refers to the growth of horns on reindeer deer in the Northern Hemisphere. Other names around the world include Thunder Moon, Hey Moon, and Mead Moon, according to NASA.
While the buck moon will reach its peak on Friday at 7:37 p.m. PT, NASA says it will appear full Thursday evening through Sunday morning. Red moons are familiar to viewers of a lunar eclipse, known as a “blood moon,” when a total eclipse turns the moon pink. But smoky skies are a different matter.
The smoke from a forest fire can also affect the appearance of the Sun. NASA explained what’s happening to it during another rough wildfire season in 2017: “Particles of smoke from the fire block out the shorter wavelengths of yellow, blue and green with longer wavelengths of sunlight.” Wavelengths allow colors such as red and orange to be obtained. Those longer wavelengths allow the sky to appear red or orange.” The effect may be more pronounced at sunset and sunrise.
Although the spread of wildfire smoke is worrying news, it could create some memorable full moon scenes. Just keep in mind what causes those colors.
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