Theresa's Place for Moon thoughts, blogs, and general lunacy.

About Me:

I am a former High School Physical Science and Astronomy Teacher. I currently work at the New Jersey Astronomy Center (NJACE) where I teach teacher professional development workshops in Astronomy, among many other things. My partner in crime at NJACE is Wil van der Veen (who is also taking this course). We have both worked with Laurie Ruberg- so that's how we got into this class. I consider my knowledge about the moon to be good, but I'm hoping to learn a few new things!

Below is one of my favorite photos of the moon.
A former student of mine took this photo during a lunar eclipse.
She put her digital camera up to the eyepiece of an 10" dobsonian!
(While I was busy trying to set up a different camera on our fancy 8" Celestron Nexstar GPS! lol. )

There are more Astronomy pictures (and other stuff) in my online albums ( )

Assignment #1: Observing the Moon
Didn't start observing at Full moon, unfortunately. So this procrastination resulted in observing a waning gibbous moon that kept rising later and later every night. Finally, last night at about 4am, I woke up and observed it through the skylight in my bedroom. Not the best of conditions, but I stayed warm and cosy in my PJ's! I really just recorded the mare, and didn't make note of any major craters or rays (oops). Maybe I'll wake up tonight and try it again!

Based on my sketch and the labelled pic of the moon, I was able to identify only the following.
Mare Imbrium, Mare Serenitatis, Mare Tranquillitatis, Oceanus Procellarum

Assignments 2/3 etc etc
Okay, its November 4th, and I'm trying to play serious catchup here. Assignments should start appearing shortly!

Assignment 3: November 20th- I was FINALLY able to observe and photograph the moon tonight! I used my digital camera through the eyepiece of my 4" reflector. One of my fav pics is below- and the second image is the same pic, but labelled.

Time of Observation: 9:30 pm EST, November 20th
Phase: Waxing Gibbous
Notes: Features near the terminus have longer shadows, making the edges of craters easier to see. Areas away from the terminus look "flatter" without long shadows.

Week 4 Homework:
Describe two lessons this would teach a student about the Moon
Wow. I can think of ALOT more than two lessons.
1) Have students figure out which direction the moon rotates (clockwise or ccw) and how long it takes to make a complete rotation. (She walks west.)
2) Describe how the far side of the moon differs from the near side (heavily cratered).
3) How radio signals depend on line of sight.
4) How earth phases (observed from the moon) would correspond to moon phases (observed from Earth).
5) How easy it is to lift heavier objects in the 1/6th gravity of the moon (and calculate how heavy a friend would feel if they had to lift them).
6) The fact that the lunar surface has a huge variety of crater sizes.
7) The names of various Mare (in fact, kids could plot her path on a lunar map).
8) Learning about lunar rilles, and how they are formed.
9) The diameter of the moon (which she walks) and how long it took her to walk it. Is it possible? How fast would she have to walk every day?
10) and much much more!

Come up with at least ten examples of the Moon in popular culture:
1) Logo for tv show Heroes- and new theme of eclipses in season 2!
2) Cover of the Parachutes Album by Coldplay? Hubby thinks its a moon, I think its a globe.
3) Blue Moon (the song)
4) Moon and New York City (Christopher Cross song)
5) Mitsubishi Eclipse car
6) Moon Boots (quite the fashion statement in the 80s)
7) A moon shot (a very bad hit in certain sports)
8) The moon walk (aaahhh Micheal Jackson, who hasn't practiced this in front of a mirror?)
9) Luna Lovegood - Character in Harry Potter
10) Remus Lupin turns into a werewolf during the full moon (also Harry Potter)
11) Wallace and Gromit (A Grand Day Out- the moon is made of Wensleydale Cheese!)
12) Pink Floyd- Dark Side of the Moon
13) Papa Please Get the Moon for me - Children's Story
14) Mooning someone!
15) Mooning the Moon (to make the Ponzo illusion disappear)
16) Houston We have a Problem! (Apollo 13 reference)
17) The saying: "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll be among the stars" (God how I hate that saying. How many misconceptions does that one create!?)
18) Another Michael Jackson reference! In the video Thriller, all the zombies come out during the full moon.
19) Jim Carey Movie: "Truman Show" They have a simulated moon on set that is HUGE and changes phase.
20) Those darn childrens clocks that have the sun go down as the moon comes up. I hate those too! Another misconception created!

3. The percieved effect of the full moon on human behavior:
-fertility, birthing
-more women having their menstrual cycle
-more crime
-more suicides
-emergency room activity
-crazy sh*t (direct quote!)
-epileptic seizures
-teenage drinking

4. How I might use the Moon in Popular Culture resources in your EPO work.
The Moon in Science Fiction Stories (with Good Science)-
-We teach a workshop for K-4 teachers- that, in essence, shows them how to integrate the use of literature (astronomy related) childrens stories) as a springboard for teaching I can see us providing these links/stories as other ways to do this.

Moon Hoax
-We teach a workshop for K-4 teachers- that, in essence, shows them how to integrate the use of literature (astronomy related) childrens stories) as a springboard for teaching I can see us providing these links/stories as other ways to do this.===

Misconceptions Assignment
  1. List three things about the image that it properly represents about the Moon, and three misconceptions the image might engender about the Moon. If you have the time, upload more than one image of the same thing, and then compare and contrast the conceptions/misconceptions in them.

First of all, let me say that I don't think I would use ANY of the images below. They all pretty much suck for creating misconceptions, but they certainly are common in textbooks!moon-phases2.gif

Example 1----------------------------------------------------------------------->


Example 2------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->


Example 3 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->

The Moon is illuminated by sunlight.
The Moon orbits the Earth.
The Moon has phases.

The moon is almost the same size as the Earth (example 1 and 2), or is larger than the Earth (example 3).
New moon looks exactly like a Solar Eclipse (example 3).
The Sun is very very close, and not that much larger than the Earth (example 1 and 2), and the moon is very close too.
The moon is not always lit on the side that faces the Sun (example 1).
With the moon being so close, its hard to imagine how the Earths shadow wouldn't hit the moon constantly (lunar eclipses)
There is a constant dark side to the moon. (Example 2 and 3).
The orbit of the moon is an exaggerated ellipse (example 1) or a perfect circle (example 2 and 3).

I could keep going and going!!!!

Final Project:

My lunar lesson is a modification of an existing lesson that I used (in the past) with my high school elective astronomy kids. The clientele in that class had really weak math skills, so I never really fully developed the activity to include all of the math that it could. The general idea of the activity is to look at images of the moon taken over the course of one month (using the same telescope / camera / field of view). The students measure the apparent diameter of the moon and chart to see if it changes. If it does change, what does that tell you about the moon? Is it actually getting bigger or smaller? What could it say about the orbit?

My new version is a much much more intensive math experience, using the same images. I always wanted to do it, but never found the time or motivation! This asks the students to make the same measurements, but then uses MATH (the dirty M word) to actually CALCULATE the distance of the moon in each photo. I also found this great program that allows you to create your own graph paper, so I made Circular Graph paper to plot the data on. I finally got to use a neat little trick I learned about how to determining the eccentricity of a drawn ellipse, so the kids can actually calculate the eccentricity of the moons orbit too.

The intended audience is for a group of very math literate kids, highly interested in astronomy... maybe looking for an extra challenge. I frequently get requests from teachers to provide some 'enrichment' activities, and this would definitely qualify. One caveat: it is defintely not an inquiry lab! It is REALLY cookbook. I meant it to be the sort of thing that you can hand to a bright student to do on their own without your help. Its not really anything I would do with an entire class.

How would I evaluate its effectiveness?
1) If a student who completed it said, COOL! That's what the orbit of the moon looks like?! Its so CIRCULAR!
2) If a student understood that these photos provide EVIDENCE for a non-circular lunar orbit.
3) If another teacher here wanted to steal it , modify it, or use it! Feel free. Please remember give credit to the photographer (Cidadao). If you want to give me credit that would be nice too :-).

- This shows the plot of measured data on the circular graph paper.

Circular Graph Paper