Health & Science
2:23 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Forget the Dark Side - Explore the Moon's Red, Blue and Super Sides

Lake Effect's Bonnie North interviews astronomy contributor Jean Creighton.

Whether it’s super, or blue, or crescent, the moon has many faces. But what exactly are they?

Astronomy contributor Jean Creighton concludes our moon series.
Credit Twinkletoez/Flickr

Lake Effect's astronomy contributor Jean Creighton concludes our mini-moon series. She tells us a little bit more about some of those special moons.

Blue Moon

A blue moon occurs when we have two full moons in the same month, which happens every two or three years due to the 29.5-day lunar cycle. Creighton says it's not that unusual - and no, the moon does not actually look blue.

Red Moon

A red moon usually happens when the moon appears low on the horizon, as the sun sometimes does. Creighton says when the moon is at that level, its reflected light waves have to pass through more of the Earth's atmosphere, which can scatter the light.  Red light tends not to scatter as much as blue light does as it impacts atmospheric particles, hence the red glow.

Supermoon

A supermoon is when the moon physically looks bigger because it is closer to us. Because the moon's orbit around the Earth is not perfectly circular, there are times when the moon is closer to the Earth than others. Creighton says the moon, at its closest, can look up to 12 percent bigger. We get a supermoon once a year.

Professor Jean Creighton is the director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium on the campus of UW-Milwaukee, and she’s our regular astronomy contributor.