Monday, February 4, 2013

Can you get a Moonburn?

Can you get a moonburn?  That's a good question, but first let me explain a moonburn.  I'm assuming that everyone is very familiar with a sunburn.  In fact, you've probably had several sunburns in your life.  A sunburn occurs when your skin is exposed to the Sun for too long of a time.  The UV radiation from the Sun that is not absorbed by the ozone layer reaches your skin and causes damage.  Too much damage and your skin turns red.  More dangerous yet is the deep tissue damage that can occur from overexposure to the Sun. This can lead to skin cancer later on in life.

We see the Moon because sunlight reflects off the surface of the Moon toward the Earth.  The Moon does not produce any of its own light.  Therefore, if what we see when we look at the Moon is reflected sunlight, can you get a moonburn?  The simple answer is no, you cannot.

Moonlight...nothing more than reflected sunlight.

So why is a moonburn not possible?  The amount of light reflected off the surface of the Moon and received by Earth is MUCH, MUCH less than received directly from the Sun.  The reflected light from the Moon is 500,000 LESS intense than light directly from the Sun.  In addition, the Moon does not reflect UV light as well as visible light, so the amount of UV light reflected off the lunar surface is even less.  There just isn't enough UV light reaching Earth's surface from the Moon to produce a moonburn.

There are many claims of people sleeping outside under a full moon for several hours and waking up with a "burn" on their skin.  This is "burn" is NOT caused by the Moon.  It is NOT a moonburn.  There could be a number of explanations, especially if the person has sensitive skin.  It could be a rash of some kind, but it is certainly NOT a moonburn.


  1. Learn something new every day!!!!
    I did not know the moon doesnt reflect its own light.
    O science is changing the lives of millions!

  2. Could a vampire get moonburn tho? Like say that the reason they die when exposed to the sun is because of their lower tolerance to UV rays, would that mean that the moon would be like the Sun is to humans? I mean, the light and UV rays that come direct from the Sun is 400,000 times more intense, it would explain why they burn so much when exposed to sunlight. If the Sun was 400,000 times more intense than it already is, we'd be walking around dying with our skin sliding off so that's probably why it would happen to vampires, yeah?

    1. LOL! Okay, I suppose vampires can get moonburns.

  3. Imagine vampires building underground havens in the desert and then going out during the night to get their tans on

  4. Very well explained, I wondered if moonburn was possible, thank you.