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The Phases of the Moon

In this worksheet, students will answer questions about the changing shape of the Moon as seen on Earth.

'The Phases of the Moon' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Earth and Space

Curriculum subtopic:   Movement of the Moon

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

The Moon - isn't it amazing, hanging there above us, flooding the Earth with its gentle light, reflected from the Sun?

 

The moon takes 28 days to orbit the Earth. It also spins as it travels. The moon rotates once every 24 hours, the same as the Earth. This means that we always see the same side of the moon.

 

Phases of the Moon

 

We see the moon because it reflects sunlight. We call the changing shapes of the moon its phases.

 

Got that?  Let's have a look at the phases of the moon.

The different bright shapes of the moon we see on earth are called moon...

phrases

faces

phases

Which one of these explains why the shape of the moon we see on Earth changes? 

The moon orbits the Earth.

The moon orbits the sun.

The Earth orbits the moon.

We see the moon because it...

is a ball of burning gases

is a source of light

reflects light from the sun

When we see a full moon, what fraction of the moon is reflecting light from the sun? 

the whole of the moon

one half

one quarter

We cannot see a new moon because... 

the moon does not reflect light

it is too small to see

the unlit side is facing the earth

Following a new moon we see...

more of the moon lit-up

less of the moon lit-up

the same fraction of the moon lit-up

Following the full moon how much of the moon can we see over the next week?

less of it

more of it

all of it

none of it

Is this statement true or false?

 

From Earth, we always see the same side (or face) of the moon.

true

false

We always see the same side because the moon...

rotates once on its axis every 24 hours

doesn't spin at all

orbits the Earth

The moon takes 28 days to orbit the Earth.

 

If we start with a new moon on day 1 (not shown, but imagine it), match up the days with the phase we see on Earth.

Column A

Column B

7 days
half moon
14 days
full moon
21 days
new moon
28 days
half moon
  • Question 1

The different bright shapes of the moon we see on earth are called moon...

CORRECT ANSWER
phases
EDDIE SAYS
Strange word that, phases. It means a state that something's in as it continually changes - like you'll be going into a teenage phase in a few years, on your journey through life. The changing shape of the moon seen from earth are the moon phases: things like new moon and half moon.
  • Question 2

Which one of these explains why the shape of the moon we see on Earth changes? 

CORRECT ANSWER
The moon orbits the Earth.
EDDIE SAYS
The moon appears to change shape because of the way it orbits the Earth: depending on where the moon is on its orbit, a certain half of it is lit by the sun and depending on how much of that lit part we can see, we give it a name, like crescent moon.
  • Question 3

We see the moon because it...

CORRECT ANSWER
reflects light from the sun
EDDIE SAYS
Yes, moons and planets are not sources of light. Stars, like our sun, are. That means that the sun's light, bouncing off the surface of the moon, coming to our eyes, is reflected light. That's why it's a gentle, moonlight!
  • Question 4

When we see a full moon, what fraction of the moon is reflecting light from the sun? 

CORRECT ANSWER
one half
EDDIE SAYS
You'd be tempted to say "all of it", wouldn't you? That's because all of the moon you can see is lit up. But, remember, that's only one side of the moon - the other side (in shadow) is in darkness. So, when it's a full moon, that's half of the moon - the half you can see. Yes?
  • Question 5

We cannot see a new moon because... 

CORRECT ANSWER
the unlit side is facing the earth
EDDIE SAYS
When the moon is new, we cannot see it because the side reflecting the sun is facing away from the Earth. It's hard to imagine, so experimenting with a small ball (like a ping pong ball) and a torch can help. If you hold the ball up, in a darkened room, and someone else shines the torch on the half of the ball facing away from you, you can't see it. That's like the moon in the sky, with the sun below the horizon shining on to the "dark side" of the moon - only we cannot see the "dark side" as it's always facing away from us!
  • Question 6

Following a new moon we see...

CORRECT ANSWER
more of the moon lit-up
EDDIE SAYS
We see more of the illuminated side of the moon following the new moon - it's known as a waxing moon. That's because the new moon is, effectively, invisible, so the next phase must allow us to see some of it lit up. That's logic!
  • Question 7

Following the full moon how much of the moon can we see over the next week?

CORRECT ANSWER
less of it
EDDIE SAYS
The fraction of illuminated moon we see grows less following the full moon. We call this a waning moon. We started with a full moon - that's the most we can see. So, as the days pass, we can see a little less each night (as long as it's not cloudy!) as it moves on from being 'full'. That's logic!
  • Question 8

Is this statement true or false?

 

From Earth, we always see the same side (or face) of the moon.

CORRECT ANSWER
true
EDDIE SAYS
We always see the same side of the moon from Earth, we never get to see the 'dark side' of the moon! That's because it spins at the same speed as the Earth, so the same side of the moon is always facing our planet.
  • Question 9

We always see the same side because the moon...

CORRECT ANSWER
rotates once on its axis every 24 hours
EDDIE SAYS
There are lots of amazing things just around us - like rainbows, like the sun being way bigger than the moon but at just the right distance away to seem the same size, so we get solar eclipses - they seem such brilliant gifts! Another is the fact that half of the moon is always mysterious because the moon rotates at the same speed as the Earth, so we only ever see one of its faces - weird!
  • Question 10

The moon takes 28 days to orbit the Earth.

 

If we start with a new moon on day 1 (not shown, but imagine it), match up the days with the phase we see on Earth.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

7 days
half moon
14 days
full moon
21 days
half moon
28 days
new moon
EDDIE SAYS
Does that make sense? New moon to start with, then a week later (a quarter of it's journey around us) a half moon, 7 days further on it's full. Then 7 days later we get the other half lit up and finally no moon to see at all at the end ... which is also the start (again!).
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