# APS 1010 Astronomy Lab 63 Motions of the Moon MOTIONS OF THE MOON

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1 APS 1010 Astronomy Lab 63 Motions of the Moon MOTIONS OF THE MOON SYNOPSIS: The objective of this lab is to become familiar with the motion of the Moon and its relation to the motions of the Sun and Earth. EQUIPMENT: A globe of the Earth, light box, styrofoam ball, pinhole camera tube. Part I. The Moon s Orbit In the previous lab you learned how the time of day and the position of the Sun are related to the Earth s daily rotation. Now we will add the Moon and its orbit around the Earth. The diagram below shows the overhead view of the Earth and Sun from before, but now the Moon has been added: The A, B, C and D positions on the Earth are the same as before. The Moon orbits the Earth counter-clockwise (in the same direction the Earth rotates). Note that half of the Moon is always illuminated (just like the Earth); even though it may not appear to be! First let s follow the Moon s progression from new to full (from position #1 to #3). As the Moon starts its orbit (at position #1) it is between the Earth and the Sun. This is a new Moon. The half of the Moon illuminated by sunlight is facing away from us, and we would only see the dark side; however, since the Moon appears close to the Sun in the sky at this time, we cannot see it because the Sun is so bright. As the Moon moves in its orbit, it moves away from the Sun, and we start to see the illuminated half of the Moon in the form of a crescent. At this time the Moon is called a

3 APS 1010 Astronomy Lab 65 Motions of the Moon I.5 Again continue to turn to your left, holding the Moon at arm s length. Which side of the Moon is now illuminated? Move until the Moon is half illuminated (3rd quarter). What time is it now? Continue to slowly move the Moon back to new. Part II. Moonrise and Moonset As you observed in the last exercise, there is a relationship between the position of the Moon in its orbit and the time of day on Earth when you see it. When (i.e. what time of day) you can see the Moon depends on where it is in its orbit; and as you just saw the position of the Moon in its orbit also determines the Moon s phase. Now use the globe of the Earth and the light-box as before in the Motions of the Sun lab; but now include the foam ball to simulate the Moon. Position the globe such that it is the summer solstice. Hold the ball and move it around the Earth to simulate the lunar orbit. II.1 II.2 II.3 II.4 II.5 II.6 II.7 Position the globe such that Boulder is at noon and the Moon is at position #1 in its orbit. What phase is the Moon? At what time did the Moon rise; and when will it set? (Hint: You can rotate the Earth to see where Boulder will be when the Moon is on the horizon.) Position Boulder back at noon but now move the Moon to position #2. What is the Moon s phase now? Where in the sky will the Moon appear to be from Boulder? Where in the sky does the Moon appear to be in the country of Kyrgyzstan (remember this place?)? Now put the Moon at position #3. What phase is it? At what time will it rise? (Hint: Think about what position Boulder would have to be at on the Earth to see it on the eastern horizon.) At what time will the Moon set? (This should make sense, as the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth relative to the Sun.) What phase of the Moon do people in the southern hemisphere see right now? Does the time of moonrise or moonset depend on where your are on the Earth? e.g. does the Moon rise at the same local time for Boulder and Kyrgyzstan? Does the Moon rise earlier or later each night? The Moon completes one lunar orbit in 27.3 days. In this time the moonrise (and moonset) time will have changed by 24 hours - which means it will appear to be right back to where it started. How much earlier or later does the Moon rise each night? Even though it is usually regarded as a nighttime object, you can see the Moon during the day! Go outside and check to see if the Moon is visible. If so, hold up the foam ball at arm s length in the direction of the real Moon. The foam ball should have the same phase as the Moon! Explain why this is so. What phase is the Moon today? What phase will it be during next week s lab?

4 APS 1010 Astronomy Lab 66 Motions of the Moon II.8 The Moon is not the only Solar System object which shows phases - the planets do as well. You ve learned that the Moon shows a crescent phase when it is between the Earth and Sun. Which of the planets can show a crescent phase? Why is this? Part III. The Size of the Sun and Moon Warning! Looking directly at the Sun can damage your eyes! In order to measure the diameter of the Sun we use a pinhole camera - a cardboard tube with a piece of foil at one end with a tiny hole; the other end of the tube is covered in graph paper. Being careful not to look at the Sun directly, aim the tube up to the Sun with the graph paper facing you. You should see an image of the Sun on the graph paper. III.1 Measure the diameter of the Sun s image, counting the marks on the graph paper. Each square on the graph paper is 1 mm across. What is the diameter of the Sun's image? Distance from Sun to Earth Distance from Hole to image The Sun Pinhole Camera Image of The Sun Examining the geometry of the pin-hole camera shown in the figure above, you can see that if the distance to the Sun is known, we can use the similar triangles relationship to solve for the diameter of the Sun. That is, we have the following: Diameter of the Image = Distance of Image from Hole Diameter of Sun Distance of Sun from Earth III.2 Assume that the distance between the Sun and Earth is 150 million kilometers (about 93 million miles). The distance of the image from the hole (i.e. the length of the tube) is 1 meter. Determine the diameter of the Sun and compare this to the true value. The Moon has roughly the same angular size as the Sun. We can use the similar triangles relationship again to determine the size of the Moon: Diameter of the Moon = Distance of Moon to Earth Diameter of Sun Distance of Sun to Earth III.3 If the distance of the Moon to the Earth is about 390 times less than the distance between the Sun and the Earth, how big is the Moon? Check to see if your number makes sense: the Moon's diameter is a little less than the width of the United States.

5 APS 1010 Astronomy Lab 67 Motions of the Moon Part IV. Solar and Lunar Eclipses Nerds watching a Solar eclipse. Since the Sun and Moon have roughly the same angular size, it is possible for the Moon to block out the Sun as seen from Earth, causing a solar eclipse. IV.1 Hold the styrofoam Moon at arm s length and move it through its phases; there is only one phase of the Moon when it is possible for it to block your view of the Sun, causing a solar eclipse. Which phase is this? Now simulate this arrangement with the styrofoam Moon, the Earth globe, and the lightbox. Does the Moon eclipse the entire Earth, or does only a portion of the Earth lie in the Moon s shadow? Does this mean that all people on the sunlit side of the Earth can see a solar eclipse when it happens, or only some people in certain locations? The Moon's orbit is not quite circular. The Earth-Moon distance varies between 56 and 64 Earth radii. If a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is at the point in its orbit where the distance from Earth is just right, then the Moon's apparent size exactly matches the Sun s. This produces a very brief total eclipse - perhaps lasting only a few seconds. IV.2 If the Moon were at its closest point to the Earth during a solar eclipse, would it appear bigger or smaller than the Sun as seen from Earth? How would this effect the amount of time that the eclipse could be observed? If an eclipse occurred when the Moon was at its farthest distance from the Earth, describe what the eclipse (called an annular eclipse) would look like from the Earth. Balinese Hindus call Rahu, the eclipse demon, Kala Rau. In this scene Kala Rau is losing his head as he is discovered sipping from the elixir of immortality. In anger, he circles the sky in pursuit of the two informers- the Sun and Moon. When he catches either of them, his severed immortal head swallows them and an eclipse takes place. Then the ingested Sun or Moon drops out of Kala Rau s severed throat; and the eclipse is over.

6 APS 1010 Astronomy Lab 68 Motions of the Moon It s also possible for the shadow of the Earth to block the sunlight reaching the Moon, causing a lunar eclipse. IV.3 Once again, move the Moon through its phases around your head and find the one phase where the shadow of the Earth (your head) can fall on the Moon, causing a lunar eclipse. What phase is this? During a lunar eclipse, is it visible to everyone on the (uncloudy) nighttime side of the Earth, or can only a portion of the people see it? (Hint - could anyone standing on your face see the Moon in shadow?) Many people think that a lunar eclipse should occur every time that the Moon is full. This misconception is due to the fact that we usually show the Moon far closer to the Earth than it actually is, making it appear that an eclipse is unavoidable. But as mentioned above, the Moon s actual distance is roughly 30 Earth-diameters away. IV.4 Hold the styrofoam Moon at its true (properly-scaled) distance from the globe of the Earth. How big of an area would the shadow of the Earth be at this distance? Demonstrate how the Moon can easily pass over or under this shadow during its orbit, so that an eclipse does not occur. A lunar eclipse over Tashkent, in what is now Uzbek S.S.R., was witnessed on 16 December With noise of cymbals, tambourines and drums they attempted to drive away whatever it was that was attacking the Moon.

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