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Phases of Moon Model
written by Todd Timberlake
This interactive simulation allows students to explore how the relative position of Sun, Earth, and Moon produce the various phases of the moon, as seen from the Earth. The main window displays Earth (at the center) and Moon, with a circle tracing out Moon's orbit. Sun is far to the right in this picture and therefore the right side of Earth and Moon are bright while the left sides are dark.  As the simulation runs, a separate "Moon View" window shows progressive photos of the appearance of the Moon as seen from Earth.

Editor's Note: Don't miss the supplementary lesson plan, student guide, and homework problems. The author has cohesively integrated a hands-on investigation with the simulation. Together, these resources will promote understanding of a process that is often difficult for adolescents to grasp. SEE SUPPLEMENTARY DOCUMENTS below for links.

This item was created with Easy Java Simulations (EJS), a modeling tool that allows users without formal programming experience to generate computer models and simulations. To run the simulation, simply click the Java Archive file below. To modify or customize the model, See Related Materials for detailed instructions on installing and running the EJS Modeling and Authoring Tool.

Please note that this resource requires at least version 1.5 of Java (JRE).
7 supplemental documents are available
2 source code documents are available
Subjects Levels Resource Types
- Astronomy Education
= Curricula
- Fundamentals
= Lunar Phases
- Solar System
= The Moon
- Middle School
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
- Audio/Visual
= Image/Image Set
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
  • Currently 5.0/5

Rated 5.0 stars by 3 people

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Intended Users:
General Public
Access Rights:
Free access
© 2009 Todd Timberlake
EJS, Easy Java Simulations, OSP, Open Source Physics, astronomy simulation, lunar, lunar phases, moon, moon phase simulation, phase
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created July 31, 2009 by Mario Belloni
Record Updated:
June 11, 2014 by Andreu Glasmann
Last Update
when Cataloged:
July 31, 2009
Other Collections:


Author: Ahmedelshfie
Posted: March 17, 2011 at 7:26AM
Source: The Open Source Physics collection

Nice applet, thanks  for share.

» reply

Earth sceince resource

Author: Nina Daye
Posted: October 23, 2010 at 3:12PM
Source: The Open Source Physics collection

Wonderful simulation for earth science too!

» reply

the lesson design is fantastic!

Author: lookang
Posted: August 16, 2010 at 10:51PM
Source: The Open Source Physics collection

i especially liked the tennis ball and torchlight to situated the learning to a real world example, a lot of teachers will benefit from this kind of insightful lesson strategy, instead rushing into the powerpoint and talk and talk.

great lesson package!

» reply

Post a new comment on this item

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4A. The Universe
  • K-2: 4A/P2. The sun can be seen only in the daytime, but the moon can be seen sometimes at night and sometimes during the day. The sun, moon, and stars all appear to move slowly across the sky.
  • K-2: 4A/P3. The moon looks a little different every day but looks the same again about every four weeks.
4B. The Earth
  • 6-8: 4B/M5. The moon's orbit around the earth once in about 28 days changes what part of the moon is lighted by the sun and how much of that part can be seen from the earth- the phases of the moon.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.

NSES Content Standards

Con.D: Earth & Space Science
  • K-4: Objects in the Sky
  • K-4: Changes in Earth & Sky

NSES Professional Development Standards

PD.A: Learn Science Content through Inquiry
  • Active Investigation: Involve teachers in actively investigating phenomena that can be studied scientifically, interpreting results, and making sense of findings consistent with currently accepted scientific understanding.
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
T. Timberlake, Computer Program PHASES OF MOON MODEL, Version 1.0 (2009), WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9308&DocID=1247).
T. Timberlake, Computer Program PHASES OF MOON MODEL, Version 1.0 (2009), <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9308&DocID=1247>.
APA Format
Timberlake, T. (2009). Phases of Moon Model (Version 1.0) [Computer software]. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9308&DocID=1247
Chicago Format
Timberlake, Todd. "Phases of Moon Model." Version 1.0. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9308&DocID=1247 (accessed 17 April 2024).
MLA Format
Timberlake, Todd. Phases of Moon Model. Vers. 1.0. Computer software. 2009. Java (JRE) 1.5. 17 Apr. 2024 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9308&DocID=1247>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Todd Timberlake", Title = {Phases of Moon Model}, Month = {July}, Year = {2009} }
Refer Export Format

%A Todd Timberlake %T Phases of Moon Model %D July 31, 2009 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9308&DocID=1247 %O 1.0 %O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Computer Program %A Timberlake, Todd %D July 31, 2009 %T Phases of Moon Model %7 1.0 %8 July 31, 2009 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9308&DocID=1247

Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

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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Phases of Moon 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 EJS Phases of the Moon Model.

relation by Mario Belloni
Covers the Same Topic As ASPIRE: Lunar Phases

This is an inquiry-based tutorial for grades 6-9 on the topic of moon phases. Students work with partially-competed diagrams to understand how the Earth's rotation, moon's orbit around Earth, and reflected sunlight all come together to produce a "changing" moon.

relation by Caroline Hall

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