I am writing a science-fiction/fantasy novel and I've come to a sci-fiesque part in my story where I am entertaining several options for a scene, one of which could involve some pretty serious science. The short version is, my planet has two moons, there is a ritual on the planet that involves one of the moons turning red, and there are two narratives involving this scene: one is from the viewpoint of several characters on the planet, and the other is from a character on the moon itself (in a lunar colony). The easy out could be to use Rayleigh scattering and work in a lunar (or bi-lunar, since my planet has two moons) eclipse, but that's not as fun as my other idea, which is to have my moon characters somehow cause the red tinge of the moon, unbeknownst to the planet-dwellers (who think the reddish hues are caused by magic :)).
My thoughts on pulling off option 2 so far are this: Mars is red due to Iron Oxide dust in its atmosphere, right? I also read that Iron (III) oxide has many industrial uses, so is it a far stretch to play with the idea that, somehow, my characters could accidentally release a pressurized vat of iron oxide into the moon's atmosphere, suctioning out into the vacuum of space, and causing the red expanse? Aside from obvious writing challenges galore, (I'll have to be hand-wavy, to be sure), I've realized that the expansion rate of a gas (or dust, in this case) may be sooooooo slow into space, that it would take forever to cover something like the surface area of a fraction of a moon. This just wouldn't work from the story-telling point of view, as the expansion has to be near real-time to be effective for the scene.
My question is this: do the equations governing pressurized gas/dust expansion into a vacuum (space) preclude me from using this idea? If so, does anyone have any other cool ideas that could fit the bill?
Appreciate any advice that you could provide. I'd really like to make the science as believable as possible for this scene.
Thank you all!
I appreciate all of the ideas here, thank you everyone!
For clarification, my moon has no atmosphere (like Luna) and colonists live in a kind of biodome culture, as is depicted on Mars in many sci-fi series. Thus, atmospheric pressures combined with absolute pressures (of some compressed material) could come into play with the release of some substance X out of the biodome and into space.
As for the ritual and defining “real-time” effects, the ritual is actually not a seasonal thing but a one-time deal put on by a cult who are attempting to resurrect a three-thousand year old wizard whose soul has been trapped in a sword made of a dragon’s tooth (which captures the essence of creatures which would have otherwise eaten or, in this case, which the blade came in contact with). In other words, this is not an annual occurrence. That also means that it would be ideal if the colour change of the moon could occur over a timespan that coincided with the length of the ritual, ie something along the lines of an hour or less. Thus, any ideas involving a seasonal phenomenon wouldn’t work, unfortunately.
Appreciate any further input and advice!