Ever since its formation, the surface of the moon has been bombarded with all sorts of rocks. Presumably, each of these rocks has a color, depending on its place of origin. Even if, upon impact, it would be pulverized and plunged beneath the surface, kicking up white moon dust, eventually it too would become part of the dust. So shouldn’t the moon’s surface be more colorful than it is?
It isn’t white. It’s a pale gray, like most of the minerals that compose its surface. (Ever see any moon rocks the astronauts brought back? About as visually boring as rocks and dust can be.) It just looks white compared with the night sky. Its albedo, or the amount of sunlight it reflects, is actually quite low at .12 (12%) or so. Were it like Venus, with an albedo of .65/65% you’d have trouble sleeping. Though not really, because you’d be used to it.
I have been told that the moon reflects about as much light as asphalt, which I guess ties up with the “lump of coal” reference.
Ok, I understand all of that. But still, after being bombarded for eons, why aren’t there rocks of all different colors littering the surface of the Moon?
The phrase I remember from the period (Gah. Those synapses haven’t been exercised in thirty years!) was ‘well-weathered asphalt.’ Coal would sound darker.
Because it reflects all of the colors of sunlight that fall on it pretty uniformly.
Perhaps space rocks are all the same color. Earth rocks are formed through terrestrial processes, including sedimentation, vulcanism, metamorphic pressure and temperature. Space rocks are presumably formed under different conditions, so you would not expect to have hunks of granite, sandstone or marble impacting the Moon.
I thought it was cheese-green.
The moon is about as reflective as a main belt asteroid:
The moon does have areas of different colors, they’re just not very different.
One of the Apollo missions brought back rocks that were orange. Don’t forget that the Moon is relatively stable, geologically speaking. There’s no tectonic plates to mix the surface up, so you’re not going to get much diversity in terms of lunar material.
Google image search for moon+Apollo, and you’ll get any number of pictures from the moon landings, which give you a much better idea of the moon’s appearence close up.
While writing a fantasy story, I once toyed with the idea of a world with two moons: the Bright Moon, which was limestone white and therefore brilliantly bright, and the Dark Moon, which was soot black and barely visible against the night sky.
Also, the moon has a bit of a dust problem which might contribute significantly to the overall white-grey-silver-cheese appearance.