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The Question

(Submitted November 05, 1997)

I would like to know why the moon turned red during a recent lunar eclipse?

The Answer

When you saw the moon turn red, it was because the light that was hitting the moon, from the Sun, had to go through the Earth's atmosphere. The atmosphere scatters blue light more than red light (why the sky is blue) and so what comes out the other side is red (why sunsets are red). This reddish light bounces off the moon, comes back to Earth and goes into your eyes.

Cheers,

Jonathan Keohane for Ask an Astrophysicist

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