Celestial Mechanics: The Eight Phases of the Moon!

Celestial Mechanics:  Earth, Sun and Moon

Today’s lesson focused on celestial mechanics, or the interactions between the Earth, Sun and Moon! We talked about the Moon, Earth’s only natural satellite also known as Luna, and how it orbits Earth in a counterclockwise fashion.  Did you know that we can only ever see one side of the moon?  Ask your students why!   Students then investigated in-depth the 8 phases of the Moon and learned an easy mnemonic device “DOC” to help identify between the increasing (waxing) and fading (waning) sunlight on the moon.  To aid in this understanding, students played the part of the Earth by wearing a cardboard cut-out that included the Sun, Earth, and phases of the Moon.  By rotating the display around them, they could better capture how light hits the surface of the Moon and how only certain parts of that lit surface are reflected back to Earth depending on where the Moon is resulting in the different shapes (phases) of the Moon that we see in the night sky.  Also, students were able to differentiate between pictures of what the moon’s phases would look like from our view here on Earth versus what the moon’s phases would look like if we were in a satellite in space above the North Pole!  

Using balls and flashlights as models, we then demonstrated the differences between solar and lunar eclipses.  A solar eclipse is when the Earth, Moon, and Sun are directly in line with each other with the Moon in the middle.  On the other hand, a lunar eclipse is when the Earth, Moon, and Sun are directly in line with each other, but the Earth is in the middle so that the Earth is blocking the Moon from receiving any sunlight.  Ask your student what phase the moon has to be in for a lunar or solar eclipse to occur!  Also, keep an eye out for our next visible lunar eclipse on March 23, 2016 and our next visible, total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 (a little ways away, but this one will be incredible)!

Mecánica Celeste: La Tierra, La Luna y El Sol

La lección del día de hoy, se centró en la mecánica celeste, es decir, en las interacciones entre la Tierra, la Luna y el Sol. Conversamos sobre la Luna, el único satélite natural de nuestra Tierra. Los estudiantes aprendieron sobre las 8 fases de la Luna y utilizaron un recurso mnemotécnico (“DOC”) para que les fuese más fácil identificar la luna creciente de la luna menguante. Los alumnos también lograron distinguir las distintas fases lunares observando imágenes obtenidas desde dos perspectivas distintas; las fases de luna vistas desde la Tierra, versus vistas desde un satélite en el espacio a la altura del Polo Norte. Finalmente, usando bolas y linternas como modelo de la Luna y el Sol, los estudiantes observaron las diferencias entre los eclipses lunares y solares. Pregúntale a tu hijo o hija en qué fase tiene que estar la Luna para que pueda ocurrir un eclipse solar.

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Our Young Pre classroom is for ages. This age group is working