Have you heard about the green moon? There is a story going around that the moon will turn green on the night of April 20 and again on May 29. This story got started on Facebook, and quickly became popular. Could it be possible? No. It is an example of a story that people want to believe.
Why the green moon? Because of planetary alignments? Coinciding with National Weed Day? It could be the idea of a neon-green moon is even more intriguing than a supermoon, a blood moon or an eclipse. Space.com. has an excellent explanation of the hoax. You can read more about the story here.
Yes, there really are green lights in the sky. The tails of some comets can appear bluish green. Recent comets ISON and Lovejoy are spectacular examples.
What causes the blue-green color of comets? Here is an explanation from Universe Today--
“ISON’s green color comes from the gases surrounding its icy nucleus,” says SpaceWeather.com’s Tony Phillips. “Jets spewing from the comet’s core probably contain cyanogen (CN: a poisonous gas found in many comets) and diatomic carbon (C2). Both substances glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space.”
And aurora borealis (the northern lights) can be brilliant green, purple, even magenta streaks in the night sky of northern latitudes. In the southern hemisphere, these displays are called aurora australis. What causes the colors of auroras? Different elements in the atmosphere. Here is an explanation from Northern lights Centre---
The Northern Lights are actually the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere. Variations in colour are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding. The most common auroral color, a pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora.
This is the stuff of science. It is inspiring stuff.
But the moon is also the stuff of our dreams and imagination.
Buzz Aldrin, one of the few humans who has walked on the surface of the moon, is a champion of space exploration and going to Mars. He understands what it is "to boldly go." When we look up at the moon, perhaps we too are inspired.
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