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Moonlight consists of mostly
sunlight Sunlight is a portion of the given off by the , in particular , , and light. On , sunlight is and through , and is obvious as when the Sun is above the . When direct is not blocked by s, it is experienced as sunshine, a combination of b ...

sunlight
(with little
earthlight ''Earthlight'' is a science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke, Arthur C. Clarke, published in 1955. It is an expansion to novel length of a Earthlight (short story), novella of the same name that he had published four years earl ...
) reflected from the parts of the
Moon's
Moon's
surface where the
Sun's
Sun's
light strikes.


Illumination

The intensity of moonlight varies greatly depending on the
lunar phase The lunar phase or Moon phase is the shape of the Moon The Moon is Earth's only natural satellite. At about one-quarter the diameter of Earth (comparable to the width of Australia (continent), Australia), it is the largest natural s ...
, but even the
full Moon The full moon is the lunar phase s in 2022 as viewed from the Southern Hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (hemisphere Hemisphere may refer to: * A half of a sphere As half of the Earth * A hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere o ...

full Moon
typically provides only about 0.05–0.1 
lux The lux (symbol: lx) is the SI derived unit SI derived units are units of measurement ' Measurement is the number, numerical quantification (science), quantification of the variable and attribute (research), attributes of an object or event, wh ...

lux
illumination. When a full Moon around
perigee Apsis ( el, ἀψίς; plural apsides , Greek: ἀψῖδες; "orbit") denotes either of the two extreme points (i.e., the farthest or nearest point) in the orbit In celestial mechanics, an orbit is the curved trajectory of an phy ...

perigee
(a "
supermoon
supermoon
") is viewed around upper
culmination In observational astronomy, culmination is the instant of time of the transit of a astronomical object, celestial object (the Sun, the Moon, a planet, a star, constellation or a deep-sky object) across the observer's meridian (astronomy), local me ...
from the
tropics The tropics are the region of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% ...

tropics
, the
illuminance In photometryPhotometry can refer to: * Photometry (optics), the science of measurement of visible light in terms of its perceived brightness to human vision * Photometry (astronomy), the measurement of the flux or intensity of an astronomical ob ...

illuminance
can reach up to 0.32 lux. From Earth, the of the full Moon is only about that of the
Sun The Sun is the star A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma (physics), plasma held together by its own gravity. The List of nearest stars and brown dwarfs, nearest star to Earth is the Sun. Many othe ...

Sun
. The color of moonlight, particularly around full moon, appears bluish to the
human eye The human eye is a sense organ A sense is a biological system A biological system is a complex biological network, network which connects several biologically relevant entities. Biological organization spans several scales and are determined ...

human eye
compared to most artificial light sources due to the
Purkinje effect The Purkinje effect (sometimes called the Purkinje shift) is the tendency for the peak luminance sensitivity of the eye to shift toward the blue end of the color spectrum at low illumination (lighting), illumination levels as part of dark adaptati ...

Purkinje effect
. The Moon's
bond albedo The Bond albedo (or ''spheric albedo'' or ''planetary albedo'' or ''bolometric albedo''), named after the American astronomer George Phillips Bond (1825–1865), who originally proposed it, is the fraction of power (physics), power in the total elec ...
is 0.12, meaning only 12% of incident sunlight is reflected from the lunar surface. Moonlight takes approximately 1.26 seconds to reach Earth's surface. Scattered in
Earth's atmosphere The atmosphere of Earth is the layer of gas Gas is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid, gas and plasma). The mo ...
, moonlight generally increases the
brightness Brightness is an attribute of visual perception in which a source appears to be radiating or reflecting light. In other words, brightness is the perception elicited by the luminance of a visual target. It is not necessarily proportional to lumina ...
of the
night sky The term night sky, usually associated with astronomy from Earth, refers to the nighttime appearance of astronomical object, celestial objects like stars, planets, and the Moon, which are visible in a clear sky between sunset and sunrise, when ...

night sky
, reducing
contrast Contrast may refer to: Science * Contrast (vision), the difference in color and light between parts of an image * Contrast (statistics), a combination of averages whose coefficients add up to zero, or the difference between two means * Behavioral ...
between dimmer stars and the background. For this reason, many
astronomer An astronomer is a scientist in the field of astronomy who focuses their studies on a specific question or field outside the scope of Earth. They observe astronomical objects such as stars, planets, natural satellite, moons, comets and galaxy, g ...

astronomer
s usually avoid observing sessions around full moon. Moonlight refracted through rain may produce a
moonbow A moonbow (also known as a moon rainbow) is a rainbow A rainbow is a meteorological Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences which includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics, with a major focus on weather fore ...
, and, through ice crystals,
moon dog Image:Moon dogs.jpg, A halo around the Moon and a pair of moon dogs over the observatory at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. A moon dog, moondog, or mock moon, (scientific name paraselene, plural ''paraselenae'', meaning "beside the ...
s.


Gallery

File:Sunrise over the VLT.jpg, Moonlight shines on the
Very Large Telescope The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is a telescope facility operated by the European Southern Observatory The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, commonly referred to as the European Southern Observatory ...
. File:Tonsvatnet, tåke og måne.JPG, Moonlight illuminates a lake and surroundings. File:Giftedtypist - red moon (by).jpg, During a
lunar eclipse A lunar eclipse occurs when the moves into the . This can occur only when the , Earth, and Moon are exactly or very closely aligned (in ) with Earth between the other two, and only on the night of a . The type and length of a lunar eclipse dep ...

lunar eclipse
, the Moon is colored red by indirect
sunlight Sunlight is a portion of the given off by the , in particular , , and light. On , sunlight is and through , and is obvious as when the Sun is above the . When direct is not blocked by s, it is experienced as sunshine, a combination of b ...

sunlight
, which
Earth's atmosphere The atmosphere of Earth is the layer of gas Gas is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid, gas and plasma). The mo ...

Earth's atmosphere
has scattered and
refracted In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior throu ...

refracted
. File:Earthshine Moon.jpg,
Earthlight ''Earthlight'' is a science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke, Arthur C. Clarke, published in 1955. It is an expansion to novel length of a Earthlight (short story), novella of the same name that he had published four years earl ...
(indirect sunlight reflected from Earth) illuminates the dim side of the Moon, while direct sunlight the bright side. File:High ISO with long exposure.jpg, With manual exposure settings, photographs taken in moonlight do not appear much different from those taken in
daylight Daylight is the combination of all direct and indirect sunlight Sunlight is a portion of the given off by the , in particular , , and light. On , sunlight is and through , and is obvious as when the Sun is above the . When direct is ...

daylight
.


Folklore

In folklore, moonlight sometimes has a harmful influence. For example, sleeping in the light of a full Moon on certain nights was said to transform a person into a
werewolf In folklore, a werewolf ( ang, werwulf, "man-wolf"), or occasionally lycanthrope ( grc-gre, λυκάνθρωπος ''lukánthrōpos'', "wolf-human"), is a human with the ability to Shapeshifting, shapeshift into a wolf (or, especially in mode ...

werewolf
. The light of the Moon was thought to worsen the symptoms of
lunatics Lunatic is an antiquated term referring to a person who is seen as mentally ill, dangerous, foolish, or crazy—conditions once attributed to "lunacy". The word derives from ''lunaticus'' meaning "of the moon" or "moonstruck". History The t ...
, and to sleep in moonlight could make one blind, or mad.''A Dictionary of English Folklore'', Oxford University Press, 2000
Nyctalopia Nyctalopia ( ), also called night-blindness, is a condition making it difficult or impossible to see in relatively low light. It is a symptom of several eye diseases. Night blindness may exist from birth, or be caused by injury Injury, also kn ...
(night blindness caused by a lack of vitamin A) was thought to be caused by sleeping in moonlight in the tropics. " Moon blindness" is a name for equine recurrent uveitis. Moonlight is no longer thought of as the cause. In the 16th century,
moonmilk Moonmilk (sometimes called mondmilch, also known as montmilch or as cave milk) is a white, creamy substance found inside limestone, dolomite, and possibly other types of caves. It is a precipitate from limestone comprising aggregates of fine crys ...
, a soft white limestone precipitate found in caves, was thought to be caused by the rays of the Moon.


Moonlight in art

File:Joseph Vernet - Night - Seaport by Moonlight - WGA24731.jpg, ''Seaport by Moonlight'' (1771) by
Claude Joseph Vernet Claude-Joseph Vernet (14 August 17143 December 1789) was a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République fran ...
Image:Joseph Wright of Derby - Dovedale by Moonlight - Google Art Project.jpg, '' Dovedale by Moonlight'' (1784) by
Joseph Wright of Derby Joseph Wright (3 September 1734 – 29 August 1797), styled Joseph Wright of Derby, was an English landscape and portrait painter. He has been acclaimed as "the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution". Wr ...
File:Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg - A Philosopher in a Moonlit Churchyard.jpg, ''A Philosopher in a Moonlit
Churchyard In Christian countries a churchyard is a patch of land adjoining or surrounding a church Church may refer to: Religion * Church (building) A church building, church house, or simply church, is a building used for Christian worship servi ...

Churchyard
'' (1790) by
Philip James de Loutherbourg Philip James de Loutherbourg RA (31 October 174011 March 1812), whose name is sometimes given in the French form of Philippe-Jacques, the German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, ...
File:Ed. Manet. Clair de lune sur le port de Boulogne.jpg, '' The Port of Boulogne by Moonlight'' (1869) by
Édouard Manet Édouard Manet (, , ; 23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883) was a French modernist painter. He was one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life, and a pivotal figure in the transition from realism (arts), Realism to Impressionis ...

Édouard Manet
File:Van Gogh - Starry Night - Google Art Project.jpg, ''
The Starry Night ''The Starry Night'' is an oil-on-canvas painting by the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh Vincent Willem van Gogh (; 30 March 185329 July 1890) was a Dutch painter who posthumously became one of the most famous and ...

The Starry Night
'' (1889) by
Vincent van Gogh Vincent Willem van Gogh (; 30 March 185329 July 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in Western art ''; by Johannes Vermeer Johannes Vermeer ( , , #Pronun ...
File:Stanisław_Witkiewicz_-_Wiatr_halny_1895.jpg, ''Halny'' (1895) by Stanisław Witkiewicz


Contemporary art

In 2008 Katie Paterson produced an artwork titled ''Light bulb to Simulate Moonlight''. It consists of 289 lightbulbs coated to produce a similar spectrum to the light of the full Moon.


See also

*
Airglow Airglow (also called nightglow) is a faint emission of light by a planetary atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a layer ...

Airglow
*
Daylight Daylight is the combination of all direct and indirect sunlight Sunlight is a portion of the given off by the , in particular , , and light. On , sunlight is and through , and is obvious as when the Sun is above the . When direct is ...

Daylight
*
Diffuse reflection Diffuse reflection is the reflectionReflection or reflexion may refer to: Philosophy * Self-reflection Science * Reflection (physics), a common wave phenomenon ** Specular reflection, reflection from a smooth surface *** Mirror image, a reflec ...

Diffuse reflection
*
Earthlight (astronomy) 220px, An 80 mm shot of a ghost image was caused by a UV filter">lens_flare.html" ;"title="crescent Moon with a 10-second exposure, revealing earthshine. The green lens flare">ghost image was caused by a UV filter on the lens. Earthlight is th ...
* Lunar effect *
Scotobiology Scotobiology is the study of biology as directly and specifically affected by darkness, as opposed to photobiology, which describes the biological effects of light. Overview The science of scotobiology gathers together under a single descriptive h ...
*
Starlight Starlight is the light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in ...

Starlight
* Night in paintings (Western art) * Night in paintings (Eastern art)


References


External links


Phases of the Moon
at
USNO The United States Naval Observatory (USNO) is one of the oldest Science, scientific agencies in the United States, with a primary mission to produce geopositioning, positioning, navigation and timekeeping, timing for the United States Navy and th ...

Strange Moonlight
a
Science@NASA


a

{{Parts of a day Lunar observation Light Light sources
Light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nan ...