Moonrise, Moonset

Comprehension lesson in astronomy

Kenneth Fuller
(copyright information 2004)

If you have sufficient confidence in your students understanding of the phenomenon of lunar phases, you could use this worksheet as the evaluation quiz.
However, I prefer to use it as a review.  Students have a strong tendency to memorize each question and its answer as an isolated  stimulus-response factoid, not as a cause and effect element in an integrated concept.  They may have all the pieces of the puzzle, but don't see any picture. (See: Examples 4 & 5,  Probing for thought processes)   You may print the worksheet with the print command on your browser.  It will be easier to duplicate if you set the printer for "black only".

I give each student a worksheet, and I use an overhead transparency.
"Look at your notes and diagrams concerning the phases of Moon.  At new moon phase, what time of day will Moon rise?  NO, not at sunset!  Think, at new moon phase Moon is nearly the same direction from us as Sun.  If we are looking toward Moon, though we can't see it, what will we see?  That's right, we will see Sun.  If we are looking toward Moon as it rises and we see Sun, what time of day is it?  Yes, sunrise.  Write sunrise in the blank."

"Next, what time of day will Moon at new moon phase set?  Not sunrise!  Look at what you just wrote.  That's better, at new moon, Moon sets at sunset."

"At waxing crescent phase, what time will Moon rise?  No, not at sunset.  (Yes, it is necessary to walk some students through every phase, and then review it to show them the pattern.)  It will rise shortly after sunrise, late a.m.  And what time will the waxing crescent set?  It will set after sunset, in the late p.m."

"At first quarter, what time will Moon rise?  Half way from new to full, Moon will rise at noon.  And when will first quarter moon set?  At midnight."

"The waxing gibbous phase will rise when?  Early p.m., in the afternoon.  And when will it set?  After midnight, in the early a.m."

"The full moon phase, when will Moon rise?  Right, finally.  At full, Moon rises at sunset, and it sets at sunrise."

"The time that Moon rises during its waning gibbous phase is?  (By now many students, but not all will give correct responses.) In the evening, late p.m.  And it will set after sunrise, in the late a.m."

"The third quarter phase will rise at?  Yes, Moon will rise at midnight.  And will set at?  Noon."

"In the waning crescent phase, Moon will rise at?  After midnight, in the early a.m.  And Moon will set in the afternoon, early p.m."

"This brings us back to the new moon phase, when Moon rises at?  And sets at?"  (When describing a cycle, it helps students to mentally close the cycle if you end by repeating the place where you began.)

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