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. 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! This was done by using student-sized models of the Earth-Sun-Moon system, where students had to put together all 8 phases of the ping-pong ball “Moons” in the correct orientation towards the “Sun” to learn the phases. Students got to play the “Earth”!
In addition, 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.