It Really Is An Orange Moon!
One night we were driving home and Kekoa was just so fascinated with the moon because it was huge and it looked orange.
With every turn that we made he would get excited seeing the full orange moon through a different window, when he caught a glimpse of the moon he would tell us with so much excitement “there’s the orange moon” and “it’s over there now!”
Then, of course being the curious kid that he is, he had to ask, “why is the moon orange?” We had our assumptions of why the moon appeared orange, but careful not to cause confusion, we told Kekoa we would have to save this lesson for later when we got home because it could be his new science lesson.
We Had To Find Out!
When we got home we went straight to the computer to find out what was the answer to this question that left an amazing impact on our son, we found some cool facts about how our atmosphere can affect the moonlight.
The moon sometimes appears to be orange closer to the horizon because out of the seven visible wavelengths that the moon emits only two, red and orange, make it through our atmosphere and reaches our eyes.
Could You Explain This, Please!?
So to an adult that answer may be good enough. To a kid, however, Kekoa was like “what does that mean?” So naturally we had to break it down.
There are two things you need to understand before you can grasp this answer. You need to know a little bit about light wavelengths and the atmosphere.
First let’s talk about light. To help kids remember the order of colors in a rainbow we teach them the name ROY G. BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet).
These are the seven colors that I mentioned earlier that are visible to the human eye. I placed the name to remind us of the color order because interesting enough my husband was not taught that method that I know works because I still remember it til this day!
This acronym can also help us remember which colors have longer wavelengths. Colors from the left, have longer wavelengths and get shorter to the right.
A Fun Project You Can Do To Determine Longest Wavelength
To help your child remember that you can have them cut lengths of color string to make a rainbow.
Straighten out those strings and they will be able to see that the red string is longer than the orange, the orange is longer than the yellow, and so on. The color with longer string has longer wavelengths.
Another important thing to know about light is that if an object is white, that means it reflects all the colors. If an object appears black that means the object absorbs all colors.
What’s In Our Atmosphere?
Now let’s talk about the atmosphere. It is mainly made of nitrogen and oxygen but it also contains dust particles, pollens, and other solid particles.
Think of the components of the atmosphere as a shield that blocks and scatters the light from the moon.
When the moon is closer to the horizon, there is more atmosphere between our eyes and the moon. With more atmosphere, there are more shields and the colors with shorter wavelengths get blocked. That is why the only colors that make it through are orange and red.
As the moon rises, there is less atmosphere to block the different wavelengths. If all the light meet our eyes, the moon appears white.
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