Lunar and Planetary Institute

Education and Public Outreach

Around and Round: Lunar Phases, Planetary Orbits, and Seasons

Moon Phases Resources

Our goal is to make all of our activities and resource information freely available. Many of these are searchable at We have included our powerpoints from our workshops so that you may access them for yourselves, to download and share with other educators. Downloading the powerpoints will give you access to the notes for each slide — we have included comments, resources, and Web sites in the note section. The powerpoints are not intended to be used directly in K-12 classrooms. You may edit them to use as appropriate.

The powerpoints are located near the bottom of the following pages:
Lunar Phases

Other Sites

Today, we used activities and referred to items you can find at the following sites.

Stellarium is planetarium software that shows exactly what you see when you look up at the stars. It's easy to use, and free.

Web Sites and Activities – Phases of the Moon

An organized and engaging website from The University of Utah's Aspire program shares a wealth of information about lunar phases utilizing a lunar cycle animation. It is accompanied by thought-provoking questions presented in an engaging way for children ages 10 and up. Challenging quizzes will motivate viewers to learn more about this often misunderstood phenomenon. Also available in Spanish.

Astronomy Simulations and Animations
A compilation of various online programs on astronomical topics.  This site includes links to several lunar phases simulators, an eclipse simulator, and more.

Zoom Astronomy: The Moon
The changing faces of the Moon's surface are presented in a clear and detailed illustration for younger and older children along with the explanations for different Moon “names” and a brief narrative of Moon phases. This site offers a blank Moon-phases diagram for labeling, a Moon coloring page and quiz, and links to several other Web sites.

A Private Universe
Offers an in-depth Moon-phasing lesson using a light bulb and Styrofoam balls. A thorough explanation of phases is also presented along with an inquiry-based exercise in which students choose graphic illustrations to demonstrate both the correct and incorrect assumptions often made.

Windows to the Universe
Provided by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), shares a brief explanation of Moon phases for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners enhanced by a link to special names given to particular phases, a graphic of lunar eclipses, and Galileo's drawings of the phases of our Moon.

Provides up-to-date information on our Moon and lunar events for skywatchers, including Moon phasing.

The Astronomical Applications Department of the U.S. Naval Observatory
Presents easily accessible data pertaining to Moon phases, including tables, images, illustrations, Moon phases by date, and “what the Moon looks like today.” Information and images are useful for all ages. Text is appropriate for young adults and up.

Lawrence Molnar of Calvin College's Department of Physics and Astronomy
Offers an interactive Java tool designed to enable older children to develop an understanding of the geometrical reasons behind the phases exhibited by our Moon. Students view and manipulate animations and “quiz” themselves on their knowledge.

Produced for NASA by the Goddard Space Flight Center, offers an educational and entertaining site that allows viewers of all ages to have fun with Moon phasing.

The “Project Astro” site
A collaborative effort between The National Optical Astronomy Observatory and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, includes video clips demonstrating Moon phasing from both space and Earth perspectives, along with an explicatory narrative suited for older children and young adult audiences.

Some Basic Astronomy Demonstrations for Early Elementary Ages from William P. Blair
 A description of several classroom activities for investigating lunar phases, Earth-Moon distances, and lunar eclipses.

Oreo Moon Phases
Paper Plate Education presents “Oreo Moon Phases”, an activity that will give children ages 5 to 12 a real “hunger” for knowledge.

The Moon Project
Put together by several science teacher-educators to teach their pre-service students about science in general. The site offers Moon Phase calendars and additional Moon web links. Suitable for adults.

Inconstant Moon
Offers pictures, calendars, and music that can be enjoyed by all ages.

Websites – Eclipses

Lunar Eclipse Papercraft Model
Children can cut out a downloadable template and, with careful folding, create a rather intricate model of one of the causes of eclipses. Note that there is the possibility of introducing misconceptions that we should see eclipses every month. Appropriate for children ages 8–13.

Astronomy Online
Determine your east-west latitude using old lunar-eclipse-based navigational methods. This site was created for the 1997 lunar eclipse, but the math exercises still can be used.

This site includes a top ten lunar eclipse fact sheet, a basic viewer’s guide, a minute by minute eclipse guide, a wonderful “Anatomy of an Eclipse” diagram, and an ‘all about the moon’ segment.

Windows To the Universe
Good site for adults and children. Includes tables of recent and future lunar eclipses.

Good site for a comprehensive source of educational information about the history, science, and observation of all types of eclipses.

NASA Eclipse: Sun-Earth Connection
The first from NASA’s Sun-Earth Connection gives detailed information for all solar and lunar eclipses from 2004 through 2006. A timetable of upcoming eclipses is also offered. The viewer can click on the eclipse date to see a map and diagram of an eclipse or click on the Region of Eclipse Visibility to see a detailed description of an eclipse. The second Sun-Earth Connection site provides the necessary links to lunar eclipse photography, lunar eclipse eye safety links, and links to reports and observation tips.
NASA Eclipse Web Site
Eclipse Photography

U.S. Naval Observatory’s Astronomical Applications Department
Provides viewers with information on past and future lunar eclipse dates, circumstances, and visibility. Their Lunar Eclipse Computer database also enables viewers to retrieve eclipse-related information about any location on Earth.

Lunar Eclipse 2105
Fun, scientifically accurate story of an eclipse being viewed from our Moon by a young boy. This is a great launch for other lunar eclipse activities.

Hands-On Earth Science Eclipse Scale Model
On a sunny day, using Styrofoam balls, boards, and glue, children ages 8–15 can head outside to investigate why we have eclipses.

Solar and Lunar Eclipses Web Quest
Students search the Internet to collect information on lunar eclipses to build their understanding of the relationship between the Sun, Moon, and Earth. Students convey their understanding by writing about and illustrating what they learned.


Why Does the Moon Change Shape?
Isaac Asimov, 1991, Gareth Steven Publishing, ISBN 0836804384
Asimov's book offers a simple description of our Moon's phases with a ball/flashlight demonstration and exceptional lunar photos and paintings. Appropriate for ages 5–10.

The Moon Seems to Change
Franklyn M. Branley, 1987, Harper & Row, ISBN 0064450651
In this brief, easy-to-read text Branley presents a complete explanation of how our Moon changes shape. Colorful illustrations and diagrams and a simple experiment augment the text. Intended for ages 4–8.

Why Does the Moon Change Its Shape?
Patricia J. Murphy, 2004, Powerkids Press, ISBN 0823962342
Murphy acquaints young readers ages 5–10 with Moon phases by offering clear explanations, full-color photos, and a glossary of terms.

Tell Me Why the Moon Changes Shape
Shirley Willis, 2000, Franklin Watts, Inc., ISBN 0531159809
In this selection from the “Whiz Kids” collection, Willis presents children ages 4–8 with a colorfully illustrated guide to understanding how the Moon changes phase.

The Universe at Your Fingertips: An Astronomy Activity and Resource Notebook
Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz, 1995, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, ISBN 1886733007
A section on Moon phases and eclipses is included in this comprehensive 800-page loose-leaf astronomy resource guide with ready-to-use activities for ages 6–18.

Science Project Ideas About the Moon
Robert Gardner, 1997, Enslow Publishers, Inc., ISBN 0894908448
In this book for older children ages 9–12, Gardner introduces phases and other characteristics of the Moon through a series of demonstrations and experiments.

The Moon and You
E. C. Krupp, 2000, HarperCollins, ISBN 0688178189
Ancient Moon lore, scientific facts, data, and humor are blended to provide a detailed description of Moon phases. This reader-friendly approach and beautiful illustrations will delight and inform children (and adults!) of all ages.
Earth, Moon and Stars Teacher's Guide (Teacher Edition)
Cary I. Sneider, 1999, GEMS (Great Explorations in Math and Science), ISBN 0824886056
The GEMS program utilizes an inquiry-based, interactive approach to guide children ages 10–14 to their own conclusions about the reasons for Moon phasing. The Teacher's Guide presents classroom-tested activities on phases and eclipses in correlation with leading science standards. (Available exclusively from Carolina Biological Supply Company at 1-800-334-5551)

The Moon
Carmen Bredeson, 1998, Franklin Watts Publishing, ISBN 0531203085
Bredeson presents children ages 8–12 with comprehensive coverage of a variety of Moon related facts and topics, from Moon superstitions and myths to exploration. A myriad of interesting photos enhance the clear and concise text.

Moonstick: The Seasons of the Sioux
Eva Bunting, 2001, Bt Bound, ISBN0613340140
In this fictional story a young boy is fascinated by the changing of the seasons as he marks each one of the 13 moons of the Sioux year on his father's moon-counting stick. Children ages 4–8 will find the text and illustrations engaging.

The Birth of the Moon
Coby Hol, 2000, North South Books, ISBN 0735812500
In this attractively illustrated recreation of a Native American tale, the Sun gives the Moon as a gift to the animals so they can see at night, but he makes it wax and wane to remind them to appreciate the gift. Children ages 3–6 will enjoy this picture book.

Astronomy for Every Kid
Janice Pratt VanCleave, 1991, John Wiley & Sons Inc., ISBN 0471535737
This elementary science experiment book engages readers in numerous Moon-related activities with scientific explanations for each in terms children ages 9–12 can understand.

Moontellers: Myths of the Moon from Around the World
Lynn Moroney, 1995, Northland Publishing Company, ISBN 0873586018
Colorfully illustrated stories from indigenous tribes around the world will engage readers ages 9–13. Parents will enjoy reading stories to younger children.

The Best Book of the Moon
Ian Graham, 1999, Kingfisher/Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0753451743
Graham offers colorful illustrations and engaging text to answer questions about the Moon, including the reasons for lunar phases and eclipses, for ages 7–10.

Keepers of the Night: Native American Stories and Nocturnal Activities for Children
Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac, 1994, Fulcrum Publishing Co., ISBN 1555911773
Native American sky stories, including ones about the Moon, lunar and solar eclipses, and day and nightare accompanied by activities and tips on how best to present them.

Beyond the Blue Horizon: Myths and Legends of the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets
E. C. Krupp, 1991, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0195078004
Krupp's book offers a detailed explanation of the Moon's phases as well as some interesting lunar lore for the adult reader.

Moon (and other!) Globes

Sky and Telescope

Astronomical Society of the Pacific (1-800-335-2624)