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Moonlight is the light that reaches Earth from the Moon, consisting mostly of sunlight, with some starlight and earthlight reflected from those portions of its surface which the Sun's light strikes.[1]

Illumination Edit

The intensity of moonlight varies greatly depending on the lunar cycle but even the full moon typically provides only about 0.2 lux illumination. When the moon is viewed at high altitude at tropical latitudes, the illuminance can reach 1 lux.[2] The full moon is about 500,000 times fainter than the Sun.

The color of moonlight, particularly near full moon, appears bluish to the human eye compared to most artificial light sources. This is because of the Purkinje effect - the light is not actually tinted blue, and although moonlight is often referred to as "silvery" it has no inherent silvery quality. The Moon's albedo is 0.136,[3] meaning only 13.6% of sunlight incident on the Moon is reflected.


In folklore, moonlight sometimes has a harmful influence. For example, sleeping in the light of a full moon on certain nights was said to transform a person into a werewolf. The light of the moon was thought to worsen the symptoms of lunatics, and to sleep in moonlight could make one blind, or mad.[4] Nyctalopia (night blindness caused by a lack of vitamin A) was thought to be caused by sleeping in moonlight in the tropics.

Moonlight in artEdit

See alsoEdit



  1. Toomer, G. J. (December 1964). "Review: Ibn al-Haythams Weg zur Physik by Matthias Schramm". Isis 55 (4): 463–465 [463–4]. DOI:10.1086/349914.
  2. Bunning, Erwin (April 1969). "INTERFERENCE OF MOONLIGHT WITH THE PHOTOPERIODIC MEASUREMENT OF TIME BY PLANTS, AND THEIR ADAPTIVE REACTION". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 62 (4): 1018–1022. DOI:10.1073/pnas.62.4.1018. Retrieved on 2006-11-10.
  3. (2008). "Celestial body irradiance determination from an underfilled satellite radiometer: application to albedo and thermal emission measurements of the Moon using CERES". Applied Optics 47 (27): 4981–93. DOI:10.1364/AO.47.004981.
  4. A Dictionary of English folklore, Oxford University Press, 2000

External linksEdit

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