Project for Elementary Astronomy
In this project, you will observe the position of the Moon repeatedly
over the course of a month. The goal is to understand the changing
appearance of the Moon, and how the Moon's appearance depends on
its position in relation to the Sun.
To conduct this observing project, follow this procedure:
To complete the project, include the following in your report:
- Find or construct a calendar on which you
can record your observations. The calendar must have space for a small sketch
and a few notes for each date.
- Any time you are outside and the Sun is visible (or you
can at least tell where the Sun is), look for the Moon. You don't need to be
in the same location for each observation.
- When you see the Moon, record the
following on your calendar:
- the shape of the illuminated
portion of the Moon (sketch this);
- an arrow on your sketch, indicating the
direction from the Moon toward the Sun in the sky;
the angular distance between the Moon and Sun along the straightest possible line
(use your hand estimates);
- the time of your observation.
- Try to observe the Moon each day. On days
when you never see the Moon, indicate the times you tried. Also
note days when weather interferes with your observations.
- Your observations must span at least 1
- A copy of your "calendar" of observational sketches and notes, or a table
that presents this data neatly and efficiently.
- Why is it ok for your observations to be made from
- What is the general relationship between the
observed shape of the illuminated Moon and the relative position of the Sun?
Describe this relationship in detail, with examples.
- From your observations, how can you tell that the moon
shines by reflected sunlight?
- From your observations, how can you tell that the sun is farther away
than the moon? Explain in detail, with a sketch.
- Be sure to follow the general instructions applicable
to all projects.