To quote Credence Clearwater Revival, “I see a bad moon rising”. A video captured a giant red moon rising above a lighthouse in Cape Byron, Australia.
“I got to Belongil Beach and it was howling northerly, which is not what you want for this shoot,” photographer Luke Taylor told the New York Post. “So I grabbed a second tripod for stability and set up as best as I could.”
A red moon is caused by the Earth’s atmosphere.
The moon appears to change color because of the Earth’s atmosphere and the way it captures light from the sun.
“If your view is very clear, then you will definitely notice a pronounced reddish-orange tinge to the Moon due to the effect of Earth’s atmosphere,” Billy Teets, an outreach astronomer at the Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory, told Forbes. “Because the Earth’s atmosphere is densest near its surface, objects seen close to the horizon have their blue light scattered—resulting in a reddish tone.”
Due to its oxygen and nitrogen-rich nature, Earth’s atmosphere absorbs some wavelengths of light more than others. For instance, the atmosphere absorbs short wavelengths of light such as blue. This is why the sky is blue.
The atmosphere struggles to absorb colors with longer wavelengths such as orange. During sunset or sunrises, the yellow, orange and red end of the color spectrum overwhelms the atmosphere. When the moon is closer to the horizon, it appears orange or red.
“As the Moon gets higher in the sky, its coloration will fade to its normal greyish-white hue as you view it through less and less air,” Teets said.
Ash from volcanoes or wildfires can also affect the color of the moon and cause a brightly colored sky. Meanwhile, a “blood moon” occurs during a total lunar eclipse. The moon turns a pinkish-reddish color because Earth prevents direct sunlight from hitting it. The only light that reaches the moon comes through the Earth’s atmosphere, which filters it for colors on the blue spectrum.