# Studying the Phases of the Moon from a Privileged View

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1 Name Date Section ACTIVITY 4 Studying the Phases of the Moon from a Privileged View Learning Goals Understanding the phases of the Moon requires visualizing the Earth-Moon-Sun system in three dimensions. In this activity, you will develop this ability by learning how to: 1. Successfully replicate the motions of the Earth and Moon, as well as their positions with respect to the Sun at each lunar phase. 2. Explain the continuity of the Moon phases worldwide. 3. Use an Earth-Moon figure to disprove a common misconception that Moon phases are caused by Earth s shadow. 4. Correctly order the phases of the Moon. Step 1 Understanding the Rotation and Revolution Take a full sheet of paper and crush it into a ball. This will represent Earth. Find something in your backpack to represent the Moon. The object should be about one-quarter the size of the crushedpaper Earth. If necessary, you can crush one-quarter of a sheet of paper to represent the Moon. Study the polar graph on the last page of this activity (see Figure 4.5). You want to make Earth rotate through 1 day while, at the same time, moving the Moon in its orbit the correct number of degrees each day. It will be easiest to do this if the models of Earth and the Moon are sitting on a guide. The Moon moves nearly 12 in its orbit every 24 hours (360 divided by a rounded-off 30 days in a month). For simplicity, consider all locations to mean those for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere those who see the Moon located in the southern part of the sky as it crosses the meridian. Place the polar graph sheet on the desk in front of you. Imagine the sunlight coming from the front of the classroom. Orient your paper so that the Day 0 & 30 location on the graph is toward the Sun. Set Earth on the center of the graph paper. Hold the Moon at Day 0 & 30 we will start with a new Moon, the same geometry as shown in Figure

2 20 ACTIVITY 4 Studying the Phases of the Moon from a Privileged View Parallel light rays from the Sun Crushed paper Earth Crushed paper Moon FIGURE Starting with a new Moon, rotate the paper Earth once. If this is an accurate model, do all locations see approximately a new Moon (that is, if we could actually see a new Moon)? Yes or No 2. Each time Earth rotates, 1 day passes, and the Moon moves 12. Move the Moon counterclockwise in its orbit, and again rotate Earth. Keep stepping through this process (rotate Earth once, move the Moon 12 ) until you get to the first quarter Moon (7.5 rotations of Earth). Do all locations on Earth see a first quarter Moon, or very close to this phase, over the course of one rotation of Earth? Yes or No 3. Move the Moon and rotate Earth until the alignment is Sun-Earth-Moon (Moon on the Day 15 mark). What is the phase of the Moon when the system is in this configuration? 4. Do all locations on Earth see this phase, or very close to this phase, over the course of one rotation of Earth? Yes or No 5. Continue another 7.5 days. What is the phase of the Moon? 6. Briefly summarize your answers for questions 1 4, explaining what phases of the Moon are observed at different locations on Earth over just one complete rotation.

3 ACTIVITY 4 Studying the Phases of the Moon from a Privileged View 21 Step 2 Phases and Earth s Shadow A common misconception is that the phases of the Moon are caused by Earth s shadow. Figure 4.2 depicts the orbit of the Moon around Earth. The Sun is far off the paper to the left. If Earth s diameter in this image were 2.5 cm, Moon s orbit would have a radius of 75 cm, and the Sun would be more than three football fields away. Waning crescent Third quarter Waning gibbous Parallel light rays from the Sun New Moon Earth s shadow Full Moon Waxing crescent First quarter Waxing gibbous FIGURE Earth s shadow is shown on Figure 4.2 as it would look when the Moon was full. If the phases of the Moon were caused by the Earth s shadow falling on it, would we ever see a full Moon? Explain your answer, bringing in why the inclination of the orbit of the Moon would matter. 8. Keeping the Earth s shadow in the direction and shape shown, could you show how any of the other phases could be caused by the shadow of Earth? How or why not?

4 22 ACTIVITY 4 Studying the Phases of the Moon from a Privileged View (a) Parallel light rays from the Sun light Tree shadow SW S SE W E NW N NE Ground (b) FIGURE 4.3 Just one actual observation is needed that negates this shadowed Moon idea in order to disprove the hypothesis. Figure 4.3a shows an observation that does just that. The phase is first quarter and the Sun is still up, located in the NW. The Moon is in the SW sky. Remember that the Moon is very far away, and the Sun is almost 400 times farther away than the Moon. 9. Shadows always point in the opposite direction from the Sun. Because the Sun is in the NW in Figure 4.3a, the shadows of the trees in Figure 4.3b must point toward the direction. 10. The shadow of the Moon must point to the direction. 11. The shadow of Earth must point toward its direction 12. State how this observation disproves the shadowed Moon hypothesis.

5 ACTIVITY 4 Studying the Phases of the Moon from a Privileged View 23 Step 3 Understanding the Order of Moon Phases Figure 4.4 shows the phases of the Moon in random order. Starting with K (a new Moon), put the phases in order, from new Moon to full Moon and back to new again. k k (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (j) FIGURE 4.4 (k)

6 24 ACTIVITY 4 Studying the Phases of the Moon from a Privileged View Day 15 Earth s North Pole Day 22.5 Day 7.5 Direction of Rotation 15 Day 0 & 30 Direction of Moon s orbit Parallel light rays from the Sun FIGURE 4.5

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REVIEW FOR UNIT TEST - Universe and Its Stars Name Unit Test: Friday, September 15th What to Study/Complete: Review for Unit Test Quizizz Unit Test Practice - Universe and It s Stars (optional study sets)