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Before students can understand the reason for phases, they need to understand:
The Moon orbits the Earth
The Moon orbit at an angle with respect to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun
The Moon doesn’t shine on its own; it reflects sunlight
The scale of the Moon and Earth’s sizes and distance
Please go through Earth and Moon statistics before trying to cover the reason for phases or eclipses.
Moon’s orbital plane
New (couple days) Waxing Crescent (several days) 1st Quarter Waxing Gibbous (several days) Full Waning Gibbous (several days) 3rd Quarter Waning Crescent (several days) New
Phases: Observing and Identifying
The Sun shines on the Moon.
When the sunlight reflects off the Moon’s far side, we call it a New Moon
When the sunlight reflects off on the Moon’s near side, we call it a Full Moon
Between New and Full, we see parts of the daytime side of the Moon.
Golfball and Blacklight Activity
Please do NOT use this to teach phases;
use to test for comprehension
The Sun and Moon occasionally line up so that we have an eclipse.
These eclipses happen every year
To see a solar eclipse, you need to be on a particular part of the Earth
When the Earth’s shadow covers the Moon, we have a lunar eclipse
Penumbral lunar eclipse—the Moon only passes through the penumbra of Earth’s shadow
Partial lunar eclipse—part of the Moon passes through the umbra of Earth’s shadow
Total lunar eclipse—the entire Moon passes through the umbra of Earth’s shadow