A total lunar eclipse turns the moon red in Auckland, New Zealand on May 26.
Phil Walter/Getty Images
The full Buck Moon may appear blood red in skies across the US this weekend, due to wildfire smoke.
Western wildfires driven by climate change have spread smoke to the East Coast, tinting skies orange.
Wildfire smoke is a huge health risk, and widespread-smoke events will likely become more common.
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A full Buck Moon is rising this weekend, and it may appear orange or blood red in skies across North America.
Normally, the moon turns orange or red during an eclipse, when Earth blocks sunlight and our atmosphere reflects red light onto the lunar surface instead. But this time is unusual. Instead of being eclipsed by Earth’s shadow, the moon may be eclipsed in many places by layers of smoke.
Wildfires have exploded across the Pacific Northwest over the last month, fueled by dry vegetation and a series of heat waves made possible by the warming climate. The largest, Oregon’s Bootleg Fire, has grown to nearly twice the size of New York City and started generating its own weather.
The blazes are sending smoke roiling across the continent, prompting air-quality alerts from Minnesota to North Carolina and tinting skies orange as far east as New York and Washington, DC.
A map shows the concentration of black carbon particulates (aka soot) over North America on July 21, 2021.
NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens/GEOS-5/NASA GSFC
That’s because the particles in wildfire smoke block shorter wavelengths of sunlight – the blues and greens – and allow the longer, redder wavelengths to pass through. The moon will be no exception to this paintbrush of sweeping smoke.
“When you do have wildfire smoke, especially high up in the atmosphere, you typically do see your moon kind of turn reddish or orange,” Jesse Berman, an assistant professor in environmental health at the University of Minnesota, where he studies extreme weather and air pollution, told Insider.
If the smoke is low and thick enough, it could block out the moon entirely. But, Berman said, “it’s very likely that any area experiencing a wildfire-smoke exposure can see this red or orange moon.”
The moon, appearing orange due to smoke haze from forest fires, passes the spire of the Empire State Building in Manhattan, New York City, July 20, 2021.
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Source:: Business Insider