When we see the moon, it is most commonly seen as a grayish white. Some people describe the moon as silver colored. But, sometimes the moon is pink, orange, red, ruddy brown, and even black.
On the evening of April 7, 2020, the moon was referred to as the Super Pink Moon. This sight was the April full moon, which was also the supermoon of the year. A supermoon is when the moon, in being the closest to the earth, is larger and up to 30 percent brighter than a regular full moon. While the color of the moon will still appear as it always does the truth is the term pink moon comes from an entirely different source. The herald of a pink moon indicates the spring season is soon approaching. April’s full moon corresponds traditionally to the blooming of a eastern North American Wildflower called Phlox subulata, which has pink flowers.
Thanks to this seasonal association, this full Moon came to be called the Pink Moon! There are a number of terms that have been used to describe full moons based of the customs of the native American Indians.
There are times the moon can appear orange, even directly overhead and at any time of the year. The moon can also appear as blue, yellow, or red shades. When any clouds, smoke, dust, or pollution in the earth’s atmosphere block out some colors in the sunlight; this causes the moon to be seen in such single colors. The size of these particles in the air will produce the type of color you shall see. After the 1883 violent volcanic eruption of Krakatoa, some of the ashes went high enough in the atmosphere to block out red light allowing only blue light and variations of green to pass through to an observer on the ground. People saw blue and some cases greenish moons for years.
We will talk about strongly colored red moons, also called ” blood moons”. Ancient people believed a blood moon was an evil omen that foretold great, bloody warfare. This typically happens during a lunar eclipse when the moon has a copper or reddish appearance.
The next blood moon will be on May 21, 2021, and it will be visible from eastern Asia, Australia, the Pacific Ocean, and much of the Americas. During a lunar eclipse, the earth lines up between the moon and the sun. That action blocks out or hides the light of the moon from the sunlight as the shadow of the earth appears traversing the surface of the moon. Air molecules from the earth’s atmosphere scatter most blue light, and the remaining light reflects on the moon’s surface with a red glow or sometimes with a ruddy brown glow. Very beautiful to watch, but it is understandable why ancient people became quite fearful of what they witnessed!
The “Harvest Moon” is welcomed by farmers. At this time the full moon occurs that may appear yellow or orange, and is nearest the autumnal equinox (September 22 or 23) occurring anytime within 2 weeks before or 2 weeks after that date. The harvest moon, rises early, and is so bright that it provides enough light to see in the dark and allows farmers to harvest; cultivate and collect their crops and prepare for the cold season and snowy, icy winter.
Lastly, the moon can appear black. During a total solar eclipse, the moon looks like a jet black ball in the sky, with wisps of light streaming around its edges. The great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017 was such an event. The moon completely covered up the sun for several minutes, and was witnessed by hundreds of thousands of people across the country along the path of totality. Birds in trees stopped singing and were replaced in minuets by the chirping of evening crickets around two in the afternoon! The sky became so dark the stars became visible as well as a few planets.
People amassed in great crowds to see this amazing phenomenon. Crowds cheered in awe and beauty of the spectacle. A black moon in a total eclipse is a sight to behold and marvel!
Here is an excerpt from a witness of the Great American Eclipse:
…”Initially we had good weather, but towards the east an alarming number of clouds began to traverse the skies. At first well south of the sun but as totality got closer and closer it was oblivious that we were going to be clouded over. Gradually the clouds moved over the moon and within several minutes of the total eclipse. My disappointment brought concerns from my daughter, Stormie. We counted the seconds down as the sky grew darker and darker, precious totality was nearly upon us. We were slowly bathed in an eerie twilight sort of glow, the cross on the church of the hill behind me however had a strong brilliant reflection I couldn’t explain, like a symbol from god.
Then by some miracle the sky suddenly cleared, totality occurred and history for the little town of Clayton Georgia was made. We could feel a temperature drop. Then as if someone turned off a switch the sky became black, the corona blazed all around the blacken sun. Off came the eye protection. Stormie and I were in awe! I couldn’t see my camera controls in the darkness. The planets Mercury and fiery red Mars (unlike I have ever witnessed) and Venus were easily visible not very far the two superimposed disks.
Street lights on a nearby tiny bridge came on and the crowd behind us in the distance cheered wildly – you could feel the excitement in the air. I couldn’t resist to join them in a Rebel Yell scream. The land all around was dark, but it was a only bit past 2:30 in the afternoon! We were staring at the sun without squinting in a majestic dark but clear sky.
The emotional and spiritual experience was truly inspirational! Stormie and I looked at each other but couldn’t see our faces. The landscape, darkness and the black disk of the far side of moon just created a surreal environment. I felt as if I was in a beautiful, mysterious place where we didn’t belong, but my gosh we were here!
Then very soon, we saw sunlight flashing over the moons jet black limb, as the diamond ring effect was on its way, time to look away, or with optical protection. As if someone turned the lights back on the landscape became brighter and it was much, much easier to see around us again.
I was able to get a few more pictures for maybe the next 20 minutes, but the clouds came back, obscuring the sun and moon again. Just as if the weather returned to the way it should have been before totality. Many say that a total eclipse creates its own weather often clearing the skies in doing so. In any case we were able to see all of the 2 minutes 35 seconds of totality from my location.
Unfortunately Gary only 4 miles north of me was clouded over as well as Tony who was only a 7 mile distance away.
My heart goes out for both and the many more folks in areas in the United States who may have missed the spectacle of a lifetime.”