Sunday, March 1, 2015

Luna Not So Gray

We know that through atmospheric lensing the lunar surface changes its hue from the normal gray to anywhere between yellowish to red. But did you know that the Moon isn't actually just gray.


The Moon contains subtle hints of color that is not normally seen by our eyes. Photographic methods can bring out these subtle variations of color. These various hues are a result of the chemical distribution and abundance in the lunar surface. The mare regions or the 'seas' (the darker areas) have lower capacity to reflect light because of higher ferrous oxide (FeO) content. The bluish hues are a result of the abundance of titanium oxide (TiO2) which further limits the surface reflectivity. TiO2 has a high distribution in Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility); seen in the photo as the blue region. Orange and purplish hues are a result of the lower abundance of TiO2 and FeO. The pinkish hues are from iron-poor, aluminum-rich lunar highlands.

Here are some other images of the Moon in exaggerated colors to provide contrast from the common Lunar hue:

 



Here is an image entitled 'The Color of the Moon' from APOD (16 February 2006) by Johannes Schedler (Panther Observatory).














 





Not only do ground based observers try to see these colors but spacecraft as well. Here is another one by the Galileo spacecraft imaged in 1992.

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