Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Space: Why Does the Moon Shine?

Now that we have started learning about space, Jumping Bean and Jelly Bean are more inquisitive than ever!  I am so excited that they love this unit of study and look for activities to answer all their questions with fun experiments.  So, why does the moon shine at night?  It is really quite simple.

To demonstrate why the moon shines as night, Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean construct an easy photometer.  First, a piece of white paper is taped to the wall and a cardboard box is propped upright with white paper taped on to it as well.

Next, a few thick books are stacked on top of each other in front of the white paper taped to the wall.

Rest a flashlight on the stack of books with it pointing towards the white paper taped to the cardboard box.  Just like the moon, the white paper on the wall shines in the dark when the flashlight is turned on!

Why does this happen?  Earthshine is light that reflects off the Earth onto the Moon.  The shine of the moon is actually light bouncing off the Earth.  The light bouncing off is seen on the shadowed, or night side, of the moon.  Therefore, the moon appears to be shining even though it is a rock.


  • 2 pieces of white paper
  • cardboard box
  • flashlight
  • large books- we used 3
  • ruler
  • tape
  1. Tape the one sheet of white paper to the wall.
  2. Tape the second sheet of white paper to the cardboard box.
  3. Place the cardboard box in an upright position 12 inches away from the first sheet of paper.
  4. Stack the books on top of each other in front of the paper taped to the wall.
  5. Place the flashlight on the books pointing towards the paper taped to the cardboard box.
  6. Turn off the overhead light and turn on the flashlight.
  7. Watch the light bounce off the paper on the cardboard box and shine on the paper behind it taped to the wall.

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