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Moon Mapping: What Changes, If Any, Occur in the Moon's Apparent Shape From Day to Day? (page 2)

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Author: Janice VanCleave

Let's Explore

  1. Do the surface features of the Moon change from day to day? Repeat the experiment using binoculars or a low-power telescope. Study the appearance of the Moon and shade the daily drawings to indicate any dark regions in the lighted area of the Moon. Note that the view of the Moon through a telescope is inverted (upside down), whereas the view with your naked eye or binoculars is not inverted.
  2. For the days that you did not observe the Moon during the original experiment, use the data collected to guess what the Moon's shape would have been on those days. For information about the shapes and names of the Moon's surface features, see pages 332–351 in Jay M. Pasachoff and Donald H. Menzel's A Field Guide to Stars and Planets (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992). Science Fair Hint: Use the drawings as part of your display to show the phases of the Moon and the Moon's surface features.

Show Time!

Model the phases of the Moon by shaping a walnut-size piece of dark-colored modeling clay into a ball to represent the Moon. Stick the ball on the point of a pencil. In a darkened room, ask a helper to hold a flashlight so that the light shines toward your face. The flashlight represents the Sun and you are Earth. Holding the pencil in your hand, place the Moon model midway between you and the light. This shows the position of Earth, the Moon, and the Sun during new moon. Use an astronomy book to find out more information about the positions of Earth, Moon, and the Sun during the different phases of the Moon. Have another helper take photos of you showing the different positions for each phase. Use the photos to prepare a display.

Moon Mapping

Check it Out!

When the visible portion of the lighted side of the Moon increases, the Moon is said to wax, and when the visible portion of the lighted side decreases, it is said to wane. Find out more about the waxing and waning of the Moon. What are the names of the phases between the new moon, first quarter moon, full moon, and third quarter moon? For information about phases of the Moon, see page 40 in Dinah L. Moche's Astronomy Today (New York: Random House, 1995).

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