How you look at color is about to get all messed up…
A while back, I asked you to describe what color the moon appears to your eye. I got some pretty varied and entertaining answers, but you overwhelmingly agreed: The moon is essentially white or bright silver.
Well, you’re wrong.
The moon’s not white at all. It’s actually closer in color to an asphalt road, as we can clearly see in this 100% actually real series of images taken of the moon transiting Earth, courtesy of NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite:
That whole “the moon is white” thing? It’s just a nasty trick played on your brain by … well, another part of your brain. It has to do with the fact that our eyes perceive illumination in a scene relatively, not absolutely. It’s also why this GIF breaks your brain a little:
Bonus: The PBS Digital Studios Science Squad™ brings you a double whammy of perceptual illusions this week! White isn’t the only light that messes with your visual system, not by a long shot. Did you know that red + green can look like… yellow?