During a solar eclipse, when the moon is positioned between the sun and the earth, the air temperature beneath the moon’s shadow drops a few degrees. Building a model of a solar eclipse may not change the temperature on the model Earth, but it will illustrate how a solar eclipse occurs. The same model can also be used to demonstrate a lunar eclipse, when the Earth is positioned between the sun and the moon. In this activity, a scale model of the Earth-moon system is built using simple materials.
Construct Earth-Moon Model
Attach a 10-centimeter hard foam ball with glue to the end of a three-meter-long board to represent the Earth.
Insert one end of a stiff wire into a 2.5-centimeter hard foam ball.
Attach the small ball by the wire to the other end of the board to represent the moon. Adjust the wire so the centers of the two balls line up.
Go outside on a sunny day to demonstrate the lunar eclipse.
Hold the board with the Earth closer to the sun than the moon.
Adjust the position of the board until the shadow of the earth completely covers the moon to create the lunar eclipse.
- Hard foam ball, 10-cm in diameter
- 1-inch x 1-inch board, 3 meters long
- Hard foam ball, 2.5-cm in diameter
- Stiff wire
Do not look directly at the sun.
Go outside on a sunny day to demonstrate the solar eclipse.
Hold the board with the moon closer to the sun than the Earth.
Adjust the position of the board until the shadow of the moon falls across the Earth to create the solar eclipse.
Observe how the shadow of the moon does not completely cover the Earth. This is the way it happens during a real solar eclipse.
Things You'll Need
- Do not look directly at the sun.
About the Author
Now living in Portland, Ore., Shawn Radcliffe has written about science and health since 1998, including online and print content for Drexel University and Oregon Health & Science University. He holds bachelor's degrees in music, English and biology from the University of Pittsburgh, as well as a Master of Science in science education from Drexel University.