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Solar and Lunar Eclipse Model
written by Mario Belloni and Todd Timberlake
This interactive model simulates solar and lunar eclipses. By viewing the Moon's orbital inclination (5.145 degrees with respect to the ecliptic), students can visualize why solar and lunar eclipses do not happen every month. The model also serves to clarify the process of Moon precession, a change in the orientation of the Moon's rotational axis as it rotates around the Earth. The model does not introduce the geometry of inclination and precession; rather, it aims to provide ways to visualize the processes in either 2D or 3D. The inclination and the motion of Moon and Earth are depicted (the size of Sun, Earth, and Moon and the size of Moon's orbit are not shown to scale). The illuminated sides of Earth and Moon and the regions of possible eclipses (in yellow and green) are also depicted. In the Ecliptic View, the motion of Sun and Moon across the sky (+/- 7 degrees from the ecliptic) are shown. Moon's phase is shown and solar and lunar eclipses can occur on the ecliptic when Earth, Sun, and Moon line up properly.

Please note that this resource requires at least version 1.5 of Java (JRE).
Editor's Note: Note to Teachers:  Viewing the model in 3D will require an additional free software download.
1 source code document is available
Subjects Levels Resource Types
- Astronomy Education
= Curricula
- Fundamentals
= Eclipses
= Lunar Phases
- Solar System
= The Moon
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Middle School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
= Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- Activity
  • Currently 5.0/5

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Intended Users:
Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a GNU General Public License Version 3 license.
Rights Holder:
Mario Belloni and Todd Timberlake
EJS, Easy Java Simulations, OSP, Open Source Physics, astronomy, eclipse, ecliptic plane, lunar eclipse, solar eclipse
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created November 13, 2009 by Mario Belloni
Record Updated:
March 26, 2017 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
November 13, 2009
Other Collections:

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Earth and the Solar System (ESS1.B)
  • This model of the solar system can explain eclipses of the sun and the moon. Earth's spin axis is fixed in direction over the short-term but tilted relative to its orbit around the sun. The seasons are a result of that tilt and are caused by the differential intensity of sunlight on different areas of Earth across the year. (6-8)
  • Kepler's laws describe common features of the motions of orbiting objects, including their elliptical paths around the sun. Orbits may change due to the gravitational effects from, or collisions with, other objects in the solar system. (9-12)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models. (9-12)
  • Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
    • Use a model to predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system. (9-12)
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
M. Belloni and T. Timberlake, Computer Program SOLAR AND LUNAR ECLIPSE MODEL , Version 1.0 (2009), WWW Document, (http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9640&DocID=1407).
M. Belloni and T. Timberlake, Computer Program SOLAR AND LUNAR ECLIPSE MODEL , Version 1.0 (2009), <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9640&DocID=1407>.
APA Format
Belloni, M., & Timberlake, T. (2009). Solar and Lunar Eclipse Model (Version 1.0) [Computer software]. Retrieved April 30, 2017, from http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9640&DocID=1407
Chicago Format
Belloni, Mario, and Todd Timberlake. "Solar and Lunar Eclipse Model ." Version 1.0. http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9640&DocID=1407 (accessed 30 April 2017).
MLA Format
Belloni, Mario, and Todd Timberlake. Solar and Lunar Eclipse Model . Vers. 1.0. Computer software. 2009. Java (JRE) 1.5. 30 Apr. 2017 <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9640&DocID=1407>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Mario Belloni and Todd Timberlake", Title = {Solar and Lunar Eclipse Model }, Month = {November}, Year = {2009} }
Refer Export Format

%A Mario Belloni
%A Todd Timberlake
%T Solar and Lunar Eclipse Model
%D November 13, 2009
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9640&DocID=1407
%O 1.0
%O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Computer Program
%A Belloni, Mario
%A Timberlake, Todd
%D November 13, 2009
%T Solar and Lunar Eclipse Model
%7 1.0
%8 November 13, 2009
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9640&DocID=1407

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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

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Solar and Lunar Eclipse Model :

Is Based On Easy Java Simulations Modeling and Authoring Tool

The Easy Java Simulations Modeling and Authoring Tool is needed to explore the computational model used in the Solar and Lunar Eclipse Model.

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