Branley, Franklyn. Illustrated by Barbara and Ed Emberley. The Moon Seems to Change. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1980, 1987.
Here’s a picture to get us started. It was taken yesterday morning (8/19) around 6 am. It is a picture of the waning moon with Venus over our little house in the backyard. It was a beautiful morning and the moon and Venus were shining so brightly over our house. We have always loved looking at the moon. At our house, we track moon phases. Why? First, it is fun. Second, we have an astrophotographer here who needs dark skies. Clear, dark nights near the new moon are a treasured commodity. The full moon is lovely to observe with your eyes, but its light is much too bright for telescope work.
New moon, full moon, waxing moon, crescent moon, what to all these terms mean? This very nice little book, The Moon Seems to Change, explains the moon and its phases. It begins, “Tonight take a look at the sky. See if the moon is there.” We learn that the moon, sun, and the earth all have a role to play in this apparent change. The moon is always illuminated by the sun. Depending on the position of the moon in its orbit around our Earth, we see more or less of its illumination.
The simple, but informative explanations are from Franklyn Branley, a champion of science education and a former chairman of The Hayden Planetarium. He offers a simple experiment that you can do at home to demonstrate the moon phases using a few simple tools: an orange, a flashlight, a pencil, and a marker. The illustrations provided by Barbara and Ed Emberley bring the explanations alive and make them accessible for young readers.
Speaking of the sun, the moon, and earth’s relative positioning, there is a special event occurring this week! Some places in the United States will be seeing a total solar eclipse. I am not traveling to see this event, but I am staying home to observe. Here in Central Texas, we will see about two-thirds of it. We have our eclipse glasses and Jim has a solar filter for his telescope. We should have an interesting day.
If you have an interest in this event, are some websites that may help you plan your eclipse watch. Remember never look directly at the sun without protective glasses (not sunglasses)!
- Safe viewing: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety
- Eclipse 101: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/
- Printable Pinhole Projectors: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/2d3d-printable-pinhole-projectors
- Where to Watch the Eclipse in Central Texas: http://www.statesman.com/news/local/make-your-plans-where-watch-the-solar-eclipse-central-texas/JhCMJASOkBW2BDM0UtTP2L/
- Smithsonian Solar Eclipse Apps: http://smithsonian-eclipse-app.simulationcurriculum.com/download.html
- Planetary Society: http://www.planetary.org/get-involved/events/2017/2017-total-solar-eclipse.html
Enjoy the excitement of the solar eclipse, but never stop enjoying stepping outside on any clear evening to view our lovely Moon.