When Do Lunar Eclipses Happen?

This When Do Lunar Eclipses Happen? activity also includes:

Who needs the daylight to simulate a lunar eclipse? Astronomers model the positions of the Sun, Earth, and Moon to explain the necessary conditions for a lunar eclipse. Investigators cut and label a paper plate to represent the Earth and Moon and use a ball to model the Sun. By manipulating the paper plate and ball, explorers recognize the correct moon phase during an eclipse and why eclipses occur at certain times of the year.

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CCSS: Designed
NGSS: Designed
Instructional Ideas
  • Arrange participants into teams of three to five to encourage collaborative learning
  • Display a diagram of lunar eclipse from the background section for reference during the activity
  • Demonstrate plate-cutting techniques and assist pupils as needed to ensure all participants' plates pivot correctly
Classroom Considerations
  • Assumes prior knowledge of moon phases
  • Collect enough materials for groups of three to five
  • Includes suggestions for use with remote learners
  • Provides organized educator's guide
  • None
Common Core