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Lunar Phases HTML5 Simulations

The simulations below were developed in collaboration with WGBH Boston for their Bringing the Universe to America's Classrooms collection with funding from NASA.

Simulation #1: Moon Phases Viewed from Earth

A simulation illustrating the motion of the sun and the moon in the southern sky for a mid-latitude in the northern hemisphere. It is useful for teaching that the sun can be seen only during the day and the moon can be seen either during the day or at night. It also shows the varying illumination on the lunar surface and the names of the phases.

It is targeted at grades K-2 students.

Lunar Phases Simulator 1
Links to this simulation and related materials on the PBS Learning Media web site:
Lunar Phases Simulator 1

Simulation #2: Moon Phases Viewed from Earth and Space

A simulation simultaneously illustrating the sky view (the sun and moon in the sky as seen from Earth) as well as the space view (the sun, Earth, and the orbiting moon in space). It illustrates how the geometry of the sun, the moon, and Earth gives rise to lunar phases.

It is targeted at grades 3-5 students.

Links to this simulation and related materials on the PBS Learning Media web site:

Simulation #3: Exploring the Rising and Setting Times of Moon Phases

A third simulation illustrating the space view of the sun-Earth-moon sytem and the appearance of the moon from Earth. It allows one to estimate the rising and setting times of a lunar phase as well as discuss the synchronous rotation of the moon.

This third simulation is targeted at grades 6-8 students.

Lunar Phases Simulator 3
Links to this simulation and related materials on the PBS Learning Media web site: