POV-Ray : Newsgroups : povray.general : Moonlight : Re: Moonlight Server Time
6 Jul 2022 18:46:26 EDT (-0400)
  Re: Moonlight  
From: Kenneth
Date: 23 Mar 2022 16:25:00
Message: <web.623b80dd97e560634cef624e6e066e29@news.povray.org>
Cousin Ricky <ric### [at] yahoocom> wrote:
> On 2022-03-21 10:58 (-4), Chris R wrote:
> >
> > ...I am currently using a made-up color of <0.45, 0.5, 0.75>
> > and an intensity of 1.0 with no fading...Has anyone done any spectrum
> > analysis for moonlight to suggest better values?
> Lumens is not what you want for moonlight; this is a measure of the
> total amount of light emitted (or reflected, in this case).  Lux is the
> proper unit for a light source that is effectively at infinity...
> [clip]

That's a masterful analysis; thanks for taking the time to describe the details
so clearly.

I find it interesting that the full Moon as seen at zenith (with just our eyes,
not through a telescope) *appears* to be a Lambertian 'disc', not a sphere--
that is, it seems to have equal illuminance from all points on its surface...
even though the Sun's rays are hitting the sphere at progressively shallower
angles, out towards the rim. I'm guessing that this is a result of our automatic
 eye/brain adjustments having to do with 'local contrast' against a dark sky,
and because of the behavior of our eyes' receptors in *relatively* dim light.

The color temperature of Moonlight, as reflected from objects, seem to be
somewhat subjective from what I've read so far. We think of it as being slightly
blue-ish-- but the Moon itself, reflecting Sunlight, has a LOWER color
temperature than the Sun, something like 4100-deg Kelvin. Taken by itself, that
would mean that Moonlight should be slightly *yellowish*(!) in comparison. But
other things come into play-- the Earth's atmospheric scattering, our eyes'
reaction to dim light, and probably other mysteries that I don't know about...
all of which combine to create a slightly blue-ish result.  It's also possible
that we have been 'trained' to think of Moonlight as being blue-- from centuries
of artists' interpretations, how it is usually reproduced in movies, etc. No one
wants to see yellow-ish Moonlight, it just looks... wrong! ;-)

Take a look at this discussion (although I don't think it comes to any definite


Here's another little monkey-wrench to throw into the mix: the D65 'white point'
of computer monitors and some color standards. That's a 6500-deg Kelvin color
temperature, which is meant to match 'daylight'-- meaning, the Sun's light AND
the surrounding blue sky. That's more blue-ish than the Sun by itself (which is
around 5400 to 5700K?) But does this viewing 'environment' still hold true when
trying to create a 'low-light' Moonlit scene in POV-ray (or any other graphics
program)? By nature, such a scene should be reproduced very dim and dark to look
'natural'-- compared to a 'Sun-lit' scene. But that's not how we would usually
render it, because we want it to look...normal. Meaning, colors and brightnesses
rendered from 0 to 1.0 (0 to 255) or thereabouts-- just like a typical scene in
'daylight'. This...discrepancy(?) in how we render low-light scenes and their
associated 'color temperatures' seems like an interesting conundrum. Do I have a
solution to it? No! (ha). I just thought I would bring it up as a philosophical
discussion point. Maybe we should just follow the great artists of the past, and
color the Moonlight blue regardless!

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