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Moon Phases: Observe the Daytime Moon to Understand How They Occur

Do your students know where and when to look for the Moon? Do they know that the Moon's phase will help them in this? By observing the Moon during the day, students can determine how it moves in its orbit around Earth. We build a lot of models in astronomy but here we make direct observations and build our understandings based on those. 


Questions Addressed

❑ Where can the Moon be found in our daytime sky?

❑ When can the Moon be found in our daytime sky?

❑ How does the Moon's position in relation to the Sun tell us its orbital revolution?


Concepts Addressed

♦  The Moon’s phase determines its rise and set times.

♦  The Moon’s phase is not caused by Earth’s shadow

♦  The Moon spends half of its time in our daytime sky and half in our nighttime sky, 

♦  Earth’s orientation to the sun changes as it revolves in its orbit.

♦  Moon phases depend on the geometry between the Sun, Earth, and the Moon.

♦  Moon phases occur in regular, repeating, logical patterns.


Standards Addressed


TEKS 6.11A, 8.7B



Materials Needed

Classroom globe(s). Pencils. Paper circle for moon.


Preparation Required

Ideally kids should observe the daytime moon two or three times before this activity. (This can be done as homework). Suggestions are made as to how to plan for this.

Teaching Time 

This lab takes about 30 minutes (more with writing assignments)


Answer Key

Extensive teacher notes address the many questions that come up. You shouldn’t have to do outside research on this topic unless you want to. 


Student Sheets

• Scaffolded writing prompts & lab reporting 

Moon Phases: Observe the Daytime Moon to Understand How They Occur


    Answer Keys and Teacher Notes address most questions and issues that might arise in this study—you shouldn’t have to do any outside research unless you want to.

    Connect with me: If you have questions or problems, please let me know and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.


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