Education and
Public Engagement
at the Lunar and Planetary Institute
Explore! Marvel Moon

Mirror Moon

Adapted from "Bouncing Sunlight," by Jennifer Edwards, Utah Education Network, 18 September 2002.


In this 10-minute demonstration or 30-minute activity, children ages 8 to 13 investigate the source of the Moon's light. They consider a ball, wrapped in aluminum foil, and experiment with a flashlight to make it appear bright. The children compare the foil-wrapped ball to a Moon globe and discover that the Moon reflects very little of the light the falls on it, but still appears bright. The children may construct their own globe of the Moon to take home with them by gluing a map template onto a tennis-ball. This activity is most effective when conducted in a dark area, such as outdoors at night during Moon in Action or in a darkened room in conjunction with Earth's Bright Neighbor.

What's the Point?


For the group:

For each child:

For the facilitator:



1. Assemble the children in a group and invite them to solve a mystery: Where does the Moon’s light come from? Show them the foil-wrapped ball and explain that they will use it as a model of the Moon. Hold the foil-wrapped ball so that it is shielded from any ambient light.

3. Show the flashlight to the children and explain that it represents the Sun.

Shine the "Sun" on the foil-wrapped ball and observe what happens.

4. Have the children consider whether the aluminum-foil wrapped ball is a good model of the Moon.

Explain that the Moon reflects only 7% of the sunlight that falls on it! The Sun is very bright, so even that little bit reflecting off the Moon makes it the brightest object in the night sky when it is up. Offer the Moon globe as a better model for the Moon, and shine the flashlight on it.


Optional: Invite the children to create their own Moon globes to take home by cutting out a template and gluing it on a tennis ball.