Phases of the Moon

Contributor: Rebecca Highland. Lesson ID: 10378

Does the moon look the same every night? Does it actually get bigger and smaller? Why does the moon seem to change shape? Using online games, charts, and your own eyes, learn about phases of the moon!


Space Science and Astronomy

learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Which moon do you see in the night sky? All of them? Can it be the same moon?

If you've ever looked at the night sky, I am sure you have seen the big, beautiful glowing face of the moon!

The moon is Earth's natural satellite, which means that it rotates around Earth the same way Earth rotates around the sun. The moon is actually just a big, round chunk of rock. It has no light of its own. So, why does it shine so brightly in our sky?

The moon shines in the night sky because it reflects the light of the sun.

Since the moon is rotating, it does not always reflect light the same way.

Think about night and day on Earth. We have night and day because the sun only lights up half the planet at a time due to the Earth's rotation every 24 hours. One side of the Earth is facing the sun while the other side of the Earth is dark. The moon is the same way! The sun is reflecting off of one half of the moon to show in the night sky!

Depending on how it is facing the Earth, we see only portions of this light, giving us the phases of the moon.

Phases of the Moon

Do you see how the sun reflects on the moon as it spins?

The moon is always half light and half dark. The only thing that changes is our perspective!

This cycle takes about a month.

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