The moon circles the Earth every 29 days. The Earth’s gravity pulls on it so that the same side of the moon is always facing us. Nonetheless, we see a different view, or phase, of the moon each night of the month. Just like the Earth, half of the moon is always in sunlight, and half in shadow. When the moon is between us and the sun, the lighted part is pointed away from us, so we don’t see it — this is the new moon. As the moon orbits the Earth, each night we see a greater part of the lighted side, until the whole sunlit side faces us (full moon). As the orbit continues, we then see less of the lighted side until the whole cycle is completed and starts again.
What You Need:
What Do You Do?
- Talk about “to scale” distances with the group.
- Explain how we will use the receipt paper to label the planet distances from the sun (and each other).
- Give each group of students a pre-cut piece of measuring tape and the distance printout sheet.
- Each group should start by drawing the Sun at one end of the tape, then measure distances from there with the meter stick, marking each planet on the receipt paper.
- When finished, each group should have a “to scale” distance of the planets listed on their receipt paper.
This activity helps demonstrate the immense scale of our solar system. The sizes of the planets vary greatly as do the distances between planets and their distance from the Sun.