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Solar and Lunar Eclipse
Objective: Explain the location of the sun, earth and moon during a solar eclipse.
MatchCard: Download below.
Astronomy MatchCard 5 covers the lunar eclipse. Astronomy MatchCard 5 describes a solar eclipse.
In a SOLAR ECLIPSE, the moon comes between the sun and the Earth. The shadow of the moon causes the solar eclipse. Depending on where a person lives on the planet, they may see a partial eclipse or a total eclipse.
See below for more information on types of solar eclipses.
With a LUNAR ECLIPSE, the Earth comes between the sun and the moon. The light of the sun cannot reflect the moon because it is in the shadow of the Earth. See the lunar eclipse worksheet
at Astronomy MatchCard #4.
Having trouble remembering which is which (solar or lunar?) The eclipse is named after whichever celestial body is blocked by the shadow. Solar eclipse - you can't see the sun. Lunar eclipse- you can't see the moon. Your memory loss has just been eclipsed!
Download and Use the Solar Eclipse MatchCard
Click image to go to download.
This is MatchCard #6 of the Astronomy Unit Study. Find more information on MatchCard Science below.
Learn About the Solar Eclipse
Demonstrate a Solar Eclipse
Have the student(s) face a blank wall. Standing behind the them, shine a flashlight on the wall. Explain that the light represents the light from the sun, and the wall is the Earth's surface.
Use a small ball on a string and move it slowly across the light, as far from the light source as you can reach. This is the moon. If you have a paddle ball set with the ball on a string, the ball will make a great moon. Otherwise, you can improvise by taping yarn, string, or tooth floss to any small ball.
The students will notice when the "moon" casts a shadow on the Earth. Ask what people on the Earth's surface would see during a solar eclipse.
Use a second demonstration to further solidify their understanding of the location of the three celestial bodies durng a solar eclipse. Using a globe, model of the Earth, and small ball for a moon, position the objects so that the moon is between the Earth and sun.
Compare With Lunar Eclipse
If you previously did the activities for the lunar eclipse, refer to them now. (See the link above under "lunar eclipse.") With the lunar eclipse, the Earth was between the sun and moon and prevents the moon from reflecting the sun's light.
Solar and Lunar Eclipse MatchCards
Show the MatchCards for both types of eclipses (Astronomy MatchCards #4 and #5.) We will learn more about the two types of the solar eclipse shortly. Have them point to the diagram and reiterate the position of the moon and Earth in comparison to the sun for both lunar and solar eclipses.
Paper Plate Game
Make paper plate (or construction paper) models of the sun, Earth, and moon. As you call out "Lunar Eclipse" or "Solar Eclipse", they have to quickly move their pieces into the correct positions.
You can also play this game with two or three kids. One person is the sun, one the moon, and one the Earth. (With only two kids, a large light could represent the sun.) As "lunar" or "solar" are called out, they need to arrange themselves correctly.
Total or Partial Eclipse
A large flashlight or overhead light with several bulbs can demonstrate the difference between a partial and total eclipse.
The shadows cast by such a light will have a darker, clearer center; as well as a fuzzier, lighter perimeter. Because the light is large enough and coming from more than one angle, it casts the inner and outer shadow.
Those in the darkest shadow experience a total eclipse. In the lighter, outer shadow, a partial eclipse occurs.
Use the internet to find pictures of partial and total eclipses. Also find when the next projected eclipse will be. What part of the Earth will be affected.
Everyone should be warned of the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse with the bare eye which can damage the retina.