When we look at the Sun, it is either yellow or orange to red when it rises and sets. But the Moon always appears white. Why does the Moon appear white when the Sun is Yellow? What color is the Moon?
The Moon does not shine independently but reflects the light of the Sun. This fact is well known and at the same time, it raises the question that if it’s the same colored light, then it should look the same to our eyes.
First of all, the light of the Sun is actually white, it contains all the colors of the spectrum. At least until it hits our earthly atmosphere because the particles that are in it split the light into different colors. The spectral colors differ in terms of their wavelength. Blue light, for example, has a short wavelength and red light has a long wavelength. The particles in our atmosphere, mainly nitrogen and oxygen, scatter short-wave light more strongly than long-wave light.
Sun Makes The Moon White
So much for the theoretical preparatory work. Let us now try to answer the question. When the Sun is high in the sky, around noon, the light only has to take a relatively short path through our atmosphere. That means, above all, the blue components of the light are scattered, which is why our sky is also blue. We see the scattered light of the Sun.
If the Sun now moves towards the horizon, the path that light has to take through the atmosphere is also lengthened. This means that more and more short-wave color components are being scattered, so when the light reaches us, it mainly still contains components of long-wave red light. The Sun turns increasingly red. If you stand by the sea and see the sunlight, which is also broken by the light haze over the water, this effect is intensified.
The atmosphere acts as a kind of filter. The longer the path of light through the atmosphere, the more red the Sun becomes. The higher the Sun goes in the sky, like in the noon, the whiter its light becomes.
What Color is the Moon?
But what about the Moon? The light is the same and the process corresponds to that already described. The Moon also changes color slightly when it rises and sets. But if it is high in the sky at night, the same applies to our satellite. The light that it reflects appears white. In contrast to the sun, we can look directly at the moon. The moon is nowhere near as bright as the Sun, which we cannot and should not look directly at during the day when it appears white.
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There is no such effect on the moon itself. Our moon has no atmosphere that could scatter light particles. The sky is therefore pitch black even during the day on the moon and the Sun is always white. No matter whether it rises, sets or wanders across the sky.