Gray Moon Rising

A few nights ago I watched the moon rise. This isn’t actually very common, just because hills and buildings mean that I rarely get a clear view of the horizon, but I had been working late and drove past LAX, which gave me a long flat stretch off to the east.

The weird thing is: it was gray.

I’m used to the moon looking white when it’s up high in the sky, yellow when it’s low, sometimes orange when it’s near the horizon, especially when there’s smoke or smog. A few months ago while the Colby Fire raged in the mountains to the northeast, I reached the top of a hill and had a fantastic view of a deep red moon through the smoke.

But gray? That was a surprise. It looked just like photos of the moon that are taken at the right exposure level to show you details instead of washing everything out. Squished a bit, of course, because it was so low.

As I kept driving, I passed more buildings and lost sight of it. A few minutes later, I caught another glimpse after it had climbed a little higher, and it looked slightly yellowish, just like I’d expect it to at that height.

I don’t know if it was something about how my eyes had adjusted, or if there was something in the haze above Los Angeles or even just nearby that counteracted the normal effect of scattering.

It did, however, remind me that the next full moon will feature a lunar eclipse, visible from our neck of the woods…the first since my son is old enough to (maybe) appreciate it. That should be fun.

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