Observing an Eclipse

Help students visualize a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse with the diagrams in this printable. After reading about eclipses, students will sequence the stages of a solar eclipse. Then, they will try an experiment to find out why the Moon glows red in a lunar eclipse.
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FutureFit Extension Activity

Reflect: Zodiac Constellations

During a total solar eclipse, the moon completely covers the sun and allows us to view normally hidden features of the solar system. During the eclipse, observers can see stars and planets normally visible only at night. One feature that is normally hidden, yet seen during a total solar eclipse, is the constellation Leo, one of the 12 Zodiac Constellations.

For this activity, download and print several copies of the worksheet Zodiac Constellations. Give students a brief overview of constellations and have them identify the constellation that corresponds to their birth date using the information from the Astrological Profile on Fact Monster.

Next, give the students a piece of aluminum foil and a push pin. Students can place their constellation over the aluminum foil and push tiny holes through the paper and the foil. You may want to provide a piece of cardboard for the students to place under the foil to avoid damaging their desk.

After they have made the correct holes in the foil for their zodiac constellation, turn off the lights in the classroom, and give the students flashlights. Allow students to take turns shining the light through their constellation holes to project their constellation onto the whiteboard or other blank wall.

Take it one step further by allowing students to reflect on the “personality” description on the Astrological Profile. Does the description match the student’s personality? Share with a friend if it’s true, or not, and why.

Investigate: Human Sundial

As the earth rotates, the sun’s rays are cast at different angles as the day progresses. Take students outside on a sunny day to trace their shadows at three different times (morning, noon and mid-afternoon, if possible). You will need colored chalk and tape measures.

First, have students work with a partner to trace their shoes in colored chalk. This will serve as a reference point for tracing their shadow during their observations. Each time students have their shadow traced, they should place their feet in their footprints exactly as they did for the first observation. Then, students should trace each other’s entire shadow in different colored chalk at the three observation times.

For each shadow, record the time of day and length of the shadow beside each shadow. After the first shadow is traced, have the students predict where the second and third shadow will be, and have them place a “?” in the predicted location. After the third observation, ask students to reflect on the following:

  • What did you observe about the size and shape of the shadows?
  • Did you predict the location of the second and third shadows correctly?
  • When was your shadow the longest? Shortest?
  • How might the shadows be different as the seasons change?

Excerpted from

Eyewitness Workbooks: Stars & Planets
Claire Watts
This workbook helps kids take their knowledge of stars and planets to the next level. It includes 48 full-color pages, a turn-and-learn info wheel, and special carrying folders.

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