How do we see different phases of the moon?

Celestial Mechanics:  Earth, Sun and Moon

Yesterday’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.   Students 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. 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, students demonstrated the differences between solar and lunar eclipses.  Ask your student what phase the moon has to be in for a lunar or solar eclipse to occur.

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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Author

Dr. Catherine Sukow

Dr. Sukow's interest in science education began when she was a teenager, with an extended visit to San Francisco's Exploratorium. In college, she had summer jobs in a similar, smaller, museum. She focused her Master's research at NCSU on the structure of metal silicides on silicon, and her Ph. D. work at Brandeis on the structure of crossbridged actin bundles. While volunteering in her childrens' schools, she was reminded how much fun it is to teach science, and is happy to be teaching now with Science from Scientists. In her spare time, she also enjoys yoga, choral and solo singing, and attempting a variety of international cuisines.

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