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Elementary Science Education

Tracking the moon


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    • #7486


      I have having a really hard time visualizing the exercise where you “bend the posterboard” into a semicircle to track the moon? Is there any way someone could show me an image that could help me figure out what I am supposed to do?

    • #7490

      Bernard Nebel

      Hello “Ladybute”,

      Thank you for your question.

      The poster paper curved into a semicircle is to represent the southern half of the sky, overhead to the ground; the right hand edge the western sky, the left hand edge the eastern sky. You, the observer, are a “pea” located on the ground in the “center” between the west and east edges. Then it is a matter of transferring your real-life observation of the moon to the paper as would be seen by the “pea.”

      Starting with the new moon, you (in real life) will see the moon as a narrow crescent in the west going down soon after the sun. Translating this to the “pea” observer, you will draw the crescent moon near the bottom, right hand edge (west) of the poster paper. As you make observations at the same time on successive nights you will see the moon progressively more filled out, higher in the sky, and more to the south. Transferring this to the paper, drawings of the moon will progress from the location of the crescent moon toward the top center. This high point (half lit moon) will be reached 7 days after the new moon. Continuing on, by the end of the second week, (14 days, after the new moon) you will be see a full moon rising in the east and you will depict this in the lower left (east) of your poster page.

      It is most important in this exercise to make observations at the same time each evening. The same time each evening will catch the Earth in the same (approximate) position in its rotation on its axis and observations of the moon will be a clear picture of its orbiting the Earth. Otherwise the two movements will create a very confusing picture.

      This time of year, overlapping the equinox, is the best time of year to be doing this exercise because the sun will be setting exactly west. The best time of day to make your observations will be between 6:00 and 7:00 pm just as the sun is setting. This will enable kids to more readily see the relative positions of the sun and the moon.

      I hope this clarifies the situation for you, Ladybute. If there are further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I would love to hear how it goes. Likewise, I would love to hear from others.

      Bernie Nebel

    • #7491

      Bernard Nebel
      • #7493


        I guess when you say “curved” I am still struggling to picture this. Am I just cutting out a semi-circle from the poster board or is it folded double in a curved shaped? Is the back side of the fold part of trying to track where the moon is, or am I just dealing with the part of the sky that is visible from the point of view of the “pea”

        Incidentally I have not been active on this forum in the past, but I have been using your materials for years and have simply found them to be the BEST science resources available for homeschoolers. (and I have looked at/tried a LOT of them). I have gained a tremendous amount of understanding from them and have loved the amount of “real-world” learning they have encouraged in my children!

    • #7494

      Bernard Nebel

      Sorry for my misunderstanding of your question. The poster board should not be cut or creased in any way. I intend simply that the whole sheet of poster board be curved to half round and set on edge.

      This is most easily accomplished by fastening one end of a strip of scotch tape to the top edge, bringing the top edge up over so that the paper is curved to make a half round, then fastening the other end of the tape to the bottom edge so that the poster board is held in the half round shape. Then, just set it on edge and you are ready to go.

      The poster board on edge obviously does not lend itself to drawing a pictures of the moon on it. It only serves to make a record of the position of the moon relative to the horizon. You can mark these positions as they are observed with a “Sharpie” and make drawing of the moon showing its phase separately. Finally, add the phases to the respective positions make on the poster.

      Do ask further if you need to.
      If anyone has done this and made a video of it, please post it.

      Thank you very much for your kind words regarding BFSU. May I ask that you post them as a review on Amazon if you have not already done so. Please mention the support of this group in your review.
      Bernie Nebel.

    • #7495


      AHhh!! Now I get it! Thank you! Will definitely post a picture when we do this one sometime in the next month!

      Will also had the review to Amazon. I would love to see your books get wider attention in the homeschool world.

    • #7496

      Bernard Nebel

      Thank you very much “Ladybute”. I will look forward to seeing your review.

      Unnecessary now, but I think my previous explanations were not the best. Here is another attempt that may help others.

      In addition to the purpose of this lesson being to gain an observational picture of the moon orbiting the Earth, consider it as an exercise in modeling. You are sitting looking at the sky and noting the position and phase of the moon on successive evenings. How will you record your observations? One way would be to record the compass direction to the moon and measure its angle above the horizon each evening, but this requires exacting work.

      Instead, I suggest modeling the situation. Beside you on the table is a model of you, yourself, observing the sky. You are represented by a pea. A half circle of poster board placed on edge around the pea represents the half of the sky that you see to the south. Place it such that the right hand edge is to the west, the depth of the curve, south, and the left hand edge, east. At the bottom of your poster, you may draw in whatever features exits along the horizon line. Now, the only task is take your real-life, nightly observations of the position and phase of the moon and transfer them to the model. For example, your real-life observation of the new moon will be a thin crescent close to the horizon in the west. On the model, this will be a thin crescent in the lower right (west) corner of the poster.

      Please post how it goes, or if there are problems.

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