Lunar Madness

based on 12 ratings
Author: Sydney H.
Topics: Ninth Grade, Physics



Purpose: The purpose of this project is to determine whether or not a top will spin longer on a full and new moon, as compared to a half moon when measured in seconds.

Place top in its respective, automatic spinner and turn until the spinner clicks ten times

2)      With a metric rule, level top 2.5cm off the ground and pull the spinner’s trigger at appropriate* time

3)      At the same time the trigger is pulled, press the “start” button of a stopwatch

4)      When top stops spinning, write down the time recorded by the stopwatch

5)      Repeat steps one through four nine times

*Because time is the dependent variable, the time the top is spun varies for every top in each trial. This project’s time was every four minutes from 8:00pm to 8:36pm.

Conclusion: Though the moon is scientifically proven to have a measurable effect on the gravity, and therefore, the movement of objects on Earth, the moon does not have a strong enough effect on a top to make it spin longer during a full or new moon when measured in seconds.



Difficulty of the Project


Safety Issues


Time Taken to Complete the Project

1 month


This project is to find out whether or not the phase of the moon effects how long a top spins. This project includes a basic understanding of physics.

Materials and Equipment

  • Top with an automatic spinner* *(a handheld device that, when wound up, puts the top in a uniformed spin)
  • A stopwatch that counts to the tenth of a second
  • A metric ruler with centimeters**
  • A hard, evenly leveled linoleum floor**
  • A pencil**
  • Paper**

** means readily available

Top and spinner can be found at your local dollar store

Stop watch is a application on most cellular phones and can also be found at your local dollar store


Newton’s law of universal gravitation states that every object the in the universe has a gravitational pull on all of the other objects in the universe. Just as the Earth pulls on the moon, the moon pulls on the Earth to create tides. The part of the Earth that is facing the moon receives the greatest amount of gravitational pull from the moon; this is one of the sides of the Earth that experiences high tide (this effect is called tidal force). The moon is not the only extraterrestrial object that affects tides, the sun also plays a part in the movement of Earth’s oceans, though not as large a part as the moon. The sun’s tidal force is about forty-six percent of that of the moons. But, when the sun, the moon, and the Earth are all aligned, the sun and the moon’s gravitational force combine to increase the pull on Earth and less the gravity the Earth exerts on other objects (these tides are called spring tides). The moon is aligned with the sun during new moon (the moon is between the earth and the sun) and full moon (the moon is on one side of earth and the sun is on the opposite side). (De Pree, C. Ph.D., & Axelrod, A., Ph.D., (2008), Groleau R., (2002), Enchanted, (2010))

In conclusion, the moon’s effect on Earth is greater than one many may think. But, can this this scientifically proven effect on Earth answer the question of its effect on the spinning of a top? Yes, because the moon’s gravity pulls on the Earth and all its contents, this lightens the force of gravity the Earth exerts on the objects in and around it. The less gravity being put on an object on Earth, the less it weighs. Objects with less weight have less friction and inertia and a weaker moment of inertia. With less friction and a weaker moment of inertia a top should spin longer. The moon’s gravitational pull on Earth is strongest during new moon and full moon, so, according to theory, a top should spin longest during a full and new moon.

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