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Activities at home
This autumn, our interpretation team here in Waterton Lakes is celebrating our International Dark Sky Preserve designation. As the nights begin to get darker and longer, we can better connect all the wonders of the night sky, including earth’s closest cosmic buddy, the Moon!
When you look up at night and see the Moon, you might notice that it does not always appear to be the same shape. Sometimes the Moon is a big circle, other times it is just a little sliver. These different shapes are what is known as the ‘phases of the Moon’ and they follow a special cycle – the Lunar cycle.
The Lunar cycle
The Moon is Earth’s only natural satellite (a celestial body that orbits a planet). It takes the Moon about 28 days to make a full trip around the Earth – a lunar month. During the lunar month, the Moon looks like it changes shape. The Moon isn’t actually changing, what’s changing is our view of it here on Earth.
As it orbits the Earth, the Sun lights up different parts of the Moon, making it look like it’s changing shape. The Moon does not create its own light. The moonlight we see is the Sun’s light reflecting off the surface of the Moon.
The big round shape is the Full Moon phase. The half-moon shape is called the Quarter Moon phase, and that little banana-like sliver is called the Crescent Moon phase.
Follow the instructions below to learn about the Moon’s phases and how to build your very own Moon mobile.
- 2 paper plates
- 1 wooden dowel
- 3 pieces of string
- Paint, paint brushes
- Hole punch
- Take one of the paper plates and cut it in half.
- Cut the rim off of both plates halves. Set one of these halves aside. This is your quarter moon!
- Take one of the rims that you cut off the plates and use the curved edge to trace a crescent shape onto the second half of your cut plate.
- Cut along the pencil line: now you have your crescent moon shape!
- Next, cut off the rim of the full paper plate. This is now your full moon shape!
- Recycle any un wanted pieces of paper plate.
Paint your moon shapes any color you want! The Moon has many ‘craters’ and mountains and valleys on its rocky surface.
Don’t be afraid to get creative! Add shapes and textures with the paint.
Hole punch time!
When the paint is dry, punch a hole at the top of each shape.
Hang your moon!
- Use a piece of string and thread one end through the hole in your moon.
Tie a knot to secure it. Do this with all three moons
- Take the other end of the string and secure it to the wooden dowel by tying a double knot. Repeat for each moon shape.
Final Step: Admire your moon
The names of the shapes you have created are Full Moon, Quarter Moon, and Crescent Moon. Think about where you will want to hang it in your home. Make sure it is in a place that will remind you to look for the moon and get to know its phases as the sky gets darker this fall.