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← Activities for the Total Solar Eclipse

Eclipse Models

On Earth, we are very lucky to be able to view total solar eclipses. Thanks to the ratio between the size and distance of the Moon and the Sun, the two bodies appear to be roughly the same size in our sky. The following activities explore the relationship of the Earth to the Moon and the Sun so participants can learn how and why eclipses occur.



Exploring the Solar System: Solar Eclipse

Exploring_the_Solar_System

This activity is easy to do outdoors or indoors and requires few supplies. It asks participants to model orbits and observe how the Moon can block the Sun's light.

  • Source: National Informal Stem Education Network
  • Target Audience: Ages 4 and up
  • Important Concepts: Scale, apparent size, shadows, orbits
  • Suggested Modifications: The activity asks for an Earth globe and a small toy Moon, but any type of sphere can be substituted. We recommend a beach ball and a small styrofoam ball or baseball.


The Earth and the Moon

This activity encourages participants to confront their misconceptions about the size and distance of Earth's Moon. Using just balloons and string, participants create an Earth-Moon model and learn how the small Moon can cover the enormous Sun during a total solar eclipse.

  • Source: Rice Space Institute
  • Target Audience: Elementary - Middle School
  • Important Concepts: Scale, apparent vs. actual size, ratios


Big Sun, Small Moon

This simple activity allows learners to explore apparent size and its relation to the eclipse.

  • Source: National Informal Stem Education Network
  • Target Audience: Ages 4 - Adult
  • Important Concepts: Scale, apparent vs. actual size, ratios
  • Suggested Modifications: You can try this activity with any two objects of different sizes. If you only have one type of ball, ask participants to find a spot on the wall or far away that they can eclipse using the ball.
Goddard Space Flight Center