Each month, the Moon goes through phases, and there is at least one full moon per month. The full moon sometimes has different names depending on if there is more than one in one month (a Blue Moon), if it’s closer to Earth than normal (a supermoon), or the time of year. The Harvest Moon, which is September 18-19th this year, happens to be the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox. It is unique because for a few nights around the time of the Harvest Moon, it may seem like there are a few full moons in a row. It may also seem to have a reddish-orange hue. This is because it rises slightly earlier than normal, and we see it through more of the Earth's atmosphere. To celebrate the Harvest Moon, and learn about moon phases, construct this simple moon on a stick activity!
-2 inch foam ball
-red and orange paint
-wooden skewer or cookie stick
-lamp with a light bulb but no shade
What to Do:
1. Mix a little bit of the red and orange paint together. This will make more of the reddish-orange hue the moon may have.
2. Paint the foam ball, and let it dry.
3. Stick the pointy end of the wooden skewer into the ball. If using a cookie stick, use scissors to start a hole in the ball, and this will make it easier to get the stick in.
4. Once finished with the moon on a stick, put a lamp, without a shade, in the middle of a table and turn it on. An incandescent light bulb works best.
5. Stand with the ball between your face and the lamp. The lamp is the Sun, and your face is Earth. Since the Moon and the Earth spin on their axis at exactly the same speed, we see the same side of the Moon at all times. So, standing in the same place, slowly spin in a circle keeping the ball at the same spot in front of your face (keep it slightly above your face). You should be able to see the shadow change on the ball. When you are facing the lamp, the whole ball is shadowed; this is the new moon. When your back is turned to the lamp, the ball should be fully illuminated; this is the full moon.
Note: This activity can be done at any time besides just the Harvest Moon. You can either leave the foam ball white, since the Moon is white, or you can paint it another color.