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Earth and Moon - How Does the Moon Shine?

The moon shines by reflecting sunlight. Like Earth, half of the moon is always lit by the sun's direct rays, and the other half is in shadow. You may have seen that the moon does not always look round. Remember when the moon travels around Earth, different parts of its bright side are seen from Earth. Without the sun, there would be no moonlight.

Notice in the picture how the moon and Earth are both moving!

Earth and Moon Moving

Try It!

Materials:

  • Flashlight
  • Mirror
  • Ball
  • 3 friends
  • Dark room

Procedure:

  1. One person holds the flashlight (to represent the sun.)
  2. One person holds the mirror (to represent the moon.)
  3. The last person holds the ball (to represent Earth.)
  4. All three people should stand in position to form a triangle.
  5. Turn off the room lights and observe the ball.
  6. Turn on the flashlight.
  7. Shine the light from the flashlight onto the mirror.
  8. Hold the mirror so the light is reflected to the ball.
    • The moonlight we see on Earth is reflected light from the sun.

Safety:
Remember not to shine the flashlight into eyes. It can damage them.

Analysis:

  1. How difficult was it to see the ball with all the lights off?
  2. Did the reflected mirror light shine on all sides of the ball at once?
utah state board of education This Sci-ber Text was developed by the Utah State Board of Education and Utah educators.