Solar and Lunar Eclipse Model
If the Moon were on the same ecliptic plane as Earth, we would see a total lunar eclipse every full moon and a total solar eclipse every new moon. But they're not. This interactive model lets students visualize how the Moon's orbital inclination (5.145 degrees with respect to the ecliptic), affects the frequency of eclipse events seen from Earth. The model also clarifies the process of Moon precession, a change in the orientation of the Moon's rotational axis as it rotates around 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.
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Phases of Moon Model
This simulation-based resource is highly recommended by the editors. Authored by astronomy professor Todd Timberlake, Director of the Pew Observatory, it features a robust interactive model, a Teachers Guide, Student Homework Exploration, Middle School Version, and complete lesson plan. Students will explore how the relative position of Sun, Earth, and Moon produce the various phases of the moon as seen from Earth. The author has also integrated a hands-on investigation. Taken together, this resource will comprise a full learning cycle.
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University of Nebraska: Lunar Phases Lab
U of Nebraska's NAAP simulation-based labs are outstanding learning cycles for the introductory astronomy class. This digital lab demonstrates how the Earth-sun-moon geometry gives rise to the phases of the moon as seen from Earth. The simulations are accompanied by omprehensive background support, demonstration guides for teachers, class worksheets, pre-and-post-test assessments, and printable student guides.
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PhET Simulation: Gravity and Orbits
This flexible simulation allows students to visualize how gravity controls the motion of objects in our solar system. Learners can move the Sun, Earth, Moon, or the International Space Station to investigate variables that affect the strength of gravitational attraction and orbital pathways. Turn off gravity to see what happens without it! The simulation is flexible enough to be used in upper elementary grades, middle school, or high school. See the resource directly below: a teacher-created Student Guide for the high school classroom. Ready to run in HTML 5, iPads, or Chromebooks.
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PhET Teacher Activity: Student Guide for Gravity and Orbits
This is a set of questions developed by high school teacher Brian Libby specifically for use with the PhET simulation "Gravity and Orbits". With the use or screenshots, it provides explicit tasks for learners as they explore the simulation. You can view it in your browser or download as a printable, modifiable document. Note: You must be a registered user to access this resource in PhET. Registration is free and easy.
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