Why is the moon white?Dave Consiglio:
Because your eyes aren’t that great at brightness.
As many people have mentioned, the Moon is actually quite dark grey:
However, it sure looks white to me. So what gives?
OK, look at the picture above. Which square is darker, A or B? They’re the same color! Don’t believe me:
It turns out we determine brightness in a very relative way: Square A looks dark because it’s surrounded by lightness. Square B looks light because it’s surrounded by darkness.
The moon is quite dark, but it’s significantly brighter than the night sky. As a result, your brain assumes it’s actually quite bright, when really it’s not.
You can really see this during a lunar eclipse:
See how white the right side looks? See how dark (and red … that’s from the Earth’s atmosphere … you can ignore that) the left side looks?
Relative illumination makes a huge difference in our perception of color and brightness.
This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.