Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Astronomy Unit: The Moon (Day 1)

 The moon is very far away (225,622 miles to 252,088 miles depending on its position in its elliptical orbit around the Earth). NASA had to be very careful about the calculations they made to send someone to the moon especially since the moon is a moving target.  In this activity, the kids are trying to hit the moon (a nut suspended on a string) that is swinging back and forth. They found it very difficult to hit the moving target!
We set up a bright lamp (our sun) and DD is moving the ping-pong ball around the earth (orange).  Meanwhile LD is slowly moving the earth/orange around the sun/lamp.
 Objects appear larger, the closer they are to you:
In this activity we showed that our hand can block out the entire wall on the other side of the room from top to bottom even though our hand is much smaller than the wall itself. This is what the moon does when it blocks out the sun in an eclipse.  The moon is smaller, but closer to Earth.
Now the kids are blocking out the orange with the smaller ping-pong ball.
The umbra and penumbra: We set an orange under our bright light and looked at the shadow.  There was a darker shadow (umbra) and a lighter shadow (penumbra).  Then we took turns showing where the penumbra starts (the pencil is not actually touching the orange, but in the picture it looks like it is). Then below we took notes for our science notebook (below is mine)...
We drew pictures of the sun and showed how there was a small area where light got through with a bit of light (penumbra) and only a small portion where the sunlight couldn't pass at all (umbra).

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