Planet Talk

A Fiery Moon

Marking the end of summer and the beginning of the school year, wildfires throughout the state of California have surged yet again. Earlier this week, fires have started around Lake Tahoe and Kern County, causing an immense amount of smoke to flood the area. An evacuation order was called in some regions as these fires are continuing to grow and pollute cities. In fact, the smoke from these fires has impacted not only the host cities but also other cities throughout California. In San Jose and other South Bay cities, schools are having to cancel their outdoor sports and activities due to the smoke in the air and air quality levels becoming unsafe.

In light of these wildfires, there have been a few astronomical changes. Last Friday night, the full moon appeared to have a reddish-orange hue. After noticing this change, I began to do some research and soon found out that this seemingly “blood moon” was a result of the wildfire smoke. Red moons (as a result of wildfires) occur because the particles in wildfire smoke block shorter wavelengths of sunlight. These shorter wavelengths are typically blues and greens. However, the particles in wildfire smoke allow red and orange wavelengths (typically longer) to pass through. This makes it extremely common for wildfire smoke to end up causing the moon to appear red or orange.

While I was at school for athletic practice, I was able to catch a glimpse of the red moon, and captured a very blurry, but visible image.

Although the red moon is definitely a sight to see, hopefully, skies will return to some sense of normalcy without smoke and haziness.

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