We’re receiving many messages and some images from people who are seeing especially red moons – or very red sunsets or sunrises – this week. Of course, the moon or sun near the horizon always look redder than usual, due to the fact that – when the moon or sun is low in the sky – you’re seeing them through a greater-than usual thickness of Earth’s air. But, this week, some commented that the moon looked red even when it was high in the sky. And many are commenting on the extra red sunsets. NASA Earth Observatory reported this week:
With dozens of wildfires burning across the western United States and Canada, many North Americans have had the acrid taste of smoke in their mouths during the past few weeks. On September 5, 2017, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reported more than 80 large fires burning in nine western U.S. states. People living in large stretches of northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho have been breathing what the U.S. government’s Air Now website rated as ‘hazardous’ air.
NASA Earth Observatory also published these two amazing images:
The reports of smokey skies didn’t start this week. We’ve been seeing photos of smoke-filled skies for several weeks, caused by the ongoing wildfires in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Canada, and, at first, most of the photos of very red moons and sun were coming from there. But now the smoke seems to be spreading.
So if the sun or moon looks particularly red to you – and you live in the U.S. – wildfire smoke might be the reason!
Bottom line: Smoke from wildfires is spreading across the U.S., causing very red moons and suns. Photos from both Earth and space here.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.