Measuring the Diameter of the Sun and the Moon *
|Areas of Science||
|Time Required||Short (2-5 days)|
You can measure the diameter of the Sun (and Moon) with a pinhole and a ruler! All you need to know is some simple geometry and the average distance between the Earth and Sun (or Moon). An easy way to make a pinhole is to cut a square hole (2-3 cm across) in the center of a piece of cardboard. Carefully tape a piece of aluminum foil flat over the hole. Use a sharp pin or needle to poke a tiny hole in the center of the foil. Use the pinhole to project an image of the Sun onto a wall or piece of paper. Use a ruler to measure the diameter of the projected image. Use your knowledge of geometry to prove that you can calculate the diameter of the Sun using the following proportionality:
Important Safety Note: Never, ever look directly at the Sun. You can permanently damage your eyes (UC Regents, 2001).
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Last edit date: 2017-07-28
BibliographyUC Regents, 2001. "Finding the Size of the Sun and Moon," The Center for Science Education @ Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley [accessed July 31, 2006] http://cse.ssl.berkeley.edu/AtHomeAstronomy/activity_03.html.
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