I see the moon and the moon sees me! The Earth’s nearest cosmic neighbor is its moon. 4.5 billion years ago as the solar system was slowly forming, scientists believe that a large meteor the size of Mars, hit the earth. Gravitational forces hugged the moon and its rotation to the earth; the earth’s gravitational pull slowed and stabilized the rotation of the moon. Surprisingly, the moon is an egg shape with a small top and bottom. It is larger than Pluto! If you see a full moon, you can imagine a face made by its many craters. If you see a crescent, half Gibbous or full, you are seeing the part of the moon lit by the sun. You are actually looking at one of its small ends. People call it the man in the moon and the earth, Gaia, or Mother Earth. As it orbits around the earth while it and the earth are rotating, it always shows us the same face. Light from the sun shines on the moon.
Activity 1 – Phases of the Moon
The moon has phases that wane, wax, and even make it disappear!
As it orbits the Earth, part of its time, the moon is between us and the Sun, and the lit side faces away from us. This is known as the new moon phase. Orbiting around the earth, the amount of sunlight the moon receives changes, creating the lunar phases. A thin sliver of reflected sunlight is a crescent moon. When fully lit by the Sun, it becomes a full moon. The moon is a new moon when it starts out. It waxes into a crescent, then a first-quarter moon. It waxes into a Waxing Gibbous and then becomes fully lit as a Full moon. Once full, it starts to Wane going into a Waning Gibbous, Last Quarter, and Waning Crescent
Draw and label the eight phases of the earth’s moon. Upload them to the gallery.
Activity 2 – Moon Landings
President John F. Kennedy proclaimed landing a person on the moon a national goal in the mid 1960’s. Eight years later in 1972, Apollo 11 achieved the first manned moon mission. American astronaut Neil Armstrong(1930-2012) and Edwin Buzz Aldrin (1930-) were the firs people to land on the moon. As Armstrong took the famous first step onto the surface her declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap forward for mankind.” Take a look at the timeline of Lunar Missions and see how many countries have become involved with the moon.
Make an abbreviated timeline of the MOON Missions and Upload it to the gallery.
Activity 3 – MOON SURFACE
Craters, visible by the naked eye on the surface of the moon, were created by collisions with space rocks between 4.1 and 3.8 billion years ago. As the moon is not geologically active like the earth, the craters remain. Without wind or rain, scientists believe the surface of the moon to be relatively untouched. Today people are exploring life on the moon as a way station on the way to life on Mars! Research Life on Mthe Moon for people.
Activity 4 – Moon Trees
More than 400 trees on Earth actually came from the moon from a lunar orbit. One astronaut, Stuart Roosa, Apollo 14, carried a small pouch of seeds on an orbital flight to the moon. Returning to earth, the seeds were planted in different cities, states, and even countries as “ moon trees”. Most of them are doing just fine back on earth!
Draw and label some of the trees whose seeds traveled to the moon and back!
Activity 5 – Moon Tides
While the earth’s moon is connected by gravity to its orbit around the earth, its gravity calls to our ocean waves. At New Moons and Full Moons, the sun, earth, and moon line up, and high tides occur.
As the moon takes 29.5 days to orbit earth, when it is closest to the earth it causes the highest, or perigean, tides. The monthly series of gravitational pulls on the earth’s waters, and actually very slowly slows down the Earth’s rotation by 1.5 milliseconds every one hundred years!