Why is the Moon red? The science and spiritual beliefs behind the Moon's occasional crimson hue

Ever wonder, why is the Moon red? Well, you're not alone and it turns out there's a very simple explanation behind its changing color

Why is the Moon red?
(Image credit: MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images)

Why is the Moon red sometimes? Well, it turns out there's a pretty simple explanation behind the Moon occasionally changing color - startling as it may appear.

On most evenings, the Moon takes to the sky in the bright yellow or white color we know and love. However, this isn't always the case. Think back to the stunning event that was the Blood Moon total lunar eclipse 2022

Since ancient times, humanity has looked to the night sky for guidance, inspiration, and a higher power. As our nearest neighbor, the Moon has proven a point of fascination for many. So much so that there are many myths about why it turns red.

So what causes this unusual occurrence in the Moon Calendar 2022 and does it have any spiritual meaning?

Why is the Moon red sometimes?

Harvest Moon: The full moon and Japanese pampas grass. The harvest moon and Japanese pampas grass. The harvest moon and Japanese pampas grass. - stock photo

(Image credit: Beautiful Fireworks/Getty Images)

The only 'bloody' thing about the Blood Moon is the color that it takes on, which happens during a lunar eclipse. According to NASA (opens in new tab), the crimson hue occurs when the sunlight that's shining directly onto planet Earth passes through the atmosphere and is projected onto the Moon - giving it that orangey-red tint.

It's depth of color is also dependent on how much dust or clouds are in Earth’s atmosphere during the lunar eclipse. The more dust and clouds there are, the redder the Moon will look in the night sky. As NASA puts it, "It’s as if all the world’s sunrises and sunsets are projected onto the Moon."

Red Moon's spiritual connections and ancient myths

Why is the Moon red?: Landscape of sky with supermoon, many stars and meteor shower.

(Image credit: kdshutterman/Getty Images)

Before the dawn of science, a red Moon was seen as a bad omen. In the Christian bible, it's referred to as, among other things, a harbinger of the apocalypse. One passage from Acts 2:20 reads, "The Sun shall be turned to darkness and the Moon to blood before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day."

The people of the Incan Empire, the Incas, believed that their Moon Goddess, Mama Quilla, was being attacked by a wild animal during lunar eclipses. "In mythology, this animal is often a big cat (a jaguar) that attacks the Moon; the blood-red color is the result of the cat’s attack," explains the Farmer's Almanac. (opens in new tab) "However, the Incan warriors ultimately prevail in scaring away the predator by making noise - plus exciting their dogs so that they howl and bark."

Another belief, which came from the world’s earliest civilization Mesopotamia, which developed in southwest Asia, said that, "the Moon was being attacked during a total lunar eclipse." This, to the Mesopotamians, was a sign warning that their king could be attacked.

Red Moons and astrology

As the Moon turns red during a lunar eclipse, according to astrology, there's a lot of supercharged cosmic energy in the ethers. This is because the power of Eclipses in astrology is pretty epic - and a chance to really knuckle down and focus.

According to the Astro Twins, speaking in Astrostyle (opens in new tab), "Solar and Lunar eclipses are dramatic turning points. They provide the cosmic kick in the pants to push us off the fence and into action." 

So instead of being wary, fearful, or concerned when you wonder why is the Moon red - just look at the science. Or, if astrology is your thing, see it as a chance to take action and make positive changes in your life.

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.