Today was a normal day, except the sun and moon colors were strange. After 5pm, the sky was covered with cirrostratus-like translucent clouds and the sky was a blend of blue and grey.

Everything would be fine, except that the sun was orange between 4-5pm. Then by around 5-6pm, the sun was completely red like blood even though it was still high up, and it was 1+ more hour to sunset.

Then, I didn't look at the sky until 8pm when it was already dark. When I went out, the moon was red just like the sun couple hours before.

The whole thing I saw from around south side od Chicago on US Labor Day (4 Sep, 2017). I didn't take pictures of the sun unfortunately because I disregarded its color, but I took pictures of the moon.

Here's how the moon looked through my phone camera, through binoculars: Red moon 1

Here is a similar picture but edited so that the moon looks exactly like I saw it with naked eye: Red moon 2

What can thia be caused by? (As of writing this at 10:06pm the moon is still red, and it is 6 hours since both the sun and the moon were red/orange)

EDIT: I also didn't see anything about this phenomenon in the media which is strange, and once again, this was seen from Chicago.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I experienced the same in Germany on the 31st of August. $\endgroup$
    – Zaibis
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 7:43
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If you think it's bad in Chicago you should see what we woke up to in Seattle today. There's a thin layer of ash on everything. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ Is it safe to look at the sun when it's in this condition? We still have our eclipse glasses but you can't see anything at all with them on. $\endgroup$
    – stannius
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ @stannius, yes, it's as fine as it is to look at the sun normally (not very fine, but not like an eclipse) $\endgroup$
    – user10976
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Eric, I live in seattle, and I left my window open last night (so hot). Woke up to ash ALL OVER my room. $\endgroup$
    – user10976
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


Smoke. There was significant smoke across the USA, which attenuated the light from the sun/moon due to increased scattering. The smoke particles effectively cause the light to reflect in different directions, so you see more colors.

See below for the HMS Smoke Polygons for the day, which clearly shows smoke over your region from the intense smoke/wildfire activity in the Pacific Northwest. You can also see the NASA Worldview composite of VIIRS visible imagery for the day, with fire locations in red.


enter image description here

  • 23
    $\begingroup$ HMS Smoke Polygons -- not the best name the Royal Navy ever chose for a warship. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 11:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It would be better to add where the smoke originated (even though many know it already). $\endgroup$
    – EKons
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 17:16
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @ΈρικΚωνσταντόπουλος Its in the answer: "from the intense smoke/wildfire activity in the Pacific Northwest" $\endgroup$
    – Polygnome
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Polygnome I was searching for "LA" or "Los Angeles" haha $\endgroup$
    – EKons
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ The smoke has been so intense here lately that many mornings you can barely see the sun, and when you can it is very very red. $\endgroup$
    – corsiKa
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 20:26

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