When the Moon Is Full (Or Seems to Be)
Last month's interest in goblins and ghouls has faded, but you can spice up November classroom and family science discussions with a blend of astronomy and a fitting 'trick' of the eye in preparation for this month's full moon!Part of a classic formula for a spooky Halloween story is the presence of a bright and luminous full moon, a glowing orb sure to call to werewolves and other creatures knocking door to door in search of sweet treats. While the moon was not entirely full for Halloween this year, it was close. According to lunar charts for 2012, the full moon for October was on October 29th, a few days ahead of trick or treaters. Just two days off of its fullest point, if there were clear skies in your area, your costume-enshrouded students may have tricked and treated by the light of a pretty bright moon.
The Night Sky
How bright is the moon when it is full? How much does the moon's brightness vary during its different phases? As November's moon cycles through the phases, these are questions young astronomers can put to the test! The "Measuring the Moon" astronomy Project Idea guides students in observing the moon throughout the month and recording light meter readings. Using this data, students can make correlations between phases of the moon and its brightness.
The "Measuring the Moon" project helps encourage students to gather and synthesize firsthand data to learn more about the moon. The "I See a Full Moon Rising...and Shrinking...or Do I?" Project Idea, on the other hand, prompts an exploration of the way we perceive the moon as it appears to climb into the night sky. This Health & Human Biology Project Idea helps students investigate the way the brain miscalculates the size of the moon in different locations, a trick of the mind which leads to the full moon illusion. In this project, students learn more about afterimages and Emmert's law. With a series of hands-on tests, students can put Emmert's law in motion as they investigate how the perceived size of an afterimage changes in relation to one's distance from the viewing surface.
Just weeks after Hurricane Sandy, the after-effects of the monstrous tropical storm that swept across Eastern states are still making headline news. While many things contributed to the storm's ferocity, the storm also approached land during a full moon. Which phase of the moon has the most powerful effect on tidal patterns? Using historical data, your students can find out in the "The Moon and Tides" astronomy Project Idea. For other suggestions for student science projects related to Hurricane Sandy, see the "Frankenstorm Science: Hurricane Sandy" blog post.