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How Far Away Is the Moon? *

Difficulty
Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.

Abstract

Let's suppose you can take advantage of the Internet and get a 'pen pal' located a 1000 miles away in another city. On the same night, and at EXACTLY the same time 'Universal Time', make a CAREFUL observation of where the Moon is located with respect to the background stars. You should be able to discern a slight (about 1/2 the Moon's diameter) shift in position due to parallax. Then, with a little geometry, you could estimate the distance of the Moon during the full lunar cycle (Odenwald, 1997). For another method of measuring the distance to the Moon, see Why Does the Moon Appear Larger at Some Times?.

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Last edit date: 2013-01-10

Bibliography

Odenwald, S., 1997. "Do you have any science fair suggestions for Middle School students?" Ask the Astronomer, Astronomy Cafe website [accessed July 31, 2006] http://www.astronomycafe.net/qadir/q2077.html.

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