Deadly Moons

Brief Description

In this activity, children learn about the moons of our Solar System through art and science.

  • Black paper
  • White paper
  • Soft pastels
  • Crayons
  • Felt-tip pens
  • Paint Brushes
  • Pencils Power
  • Point slide show
Learning Objectives

To combine the subjects of art and science for learning, to foster observation skills and record the many moons in the Solar System. This activity should also stimulate an appreciation of the beauty and wonder of the cosmos in children to inspire them to further investigate the bodies within our Solar System.

Background Information

Lunar Phases

  • Full Moon: The Moon is said to be full when the Sun shines on it, lighting up the half that we can see. When the Moon is full, it is halfway through its monthly orbit of the Earth. This moon often appears a rich yellow when it is full and sits low in the sky. This colour is due to the fact that we look at it through the thicker, dustier part of the atmosphere that is close to the ground.
  • Waxing Crescent: The black area is the night on the Moon, where the Sun is not shining. The brighter area is the day on the Moon, where the Sun is reflecting brightly off its surface. The line on the Moon between the night and the day is called ‘The Terminator’, like the movie of the same name. The bright area, just visible on the edge of the dark limb, is called ‘earthshine’. The Sun shines on the Earth and that light bounces off of the Earth’s oceans and lights up some of the darkness on the Moon.
  • First Quarter: The Moon looks like this when it is one-quarter of the way around the Earth in its monthly orbit. We see a quarter of it lit up from our place on Earth, but half of the Moon is lit up by the Sun shining on the Moon’s surface. All of the sunlight is on the right-hand side as we look at it from Earth. We can see a first quarter Moon in the evening or during the day depending on the time in the year. It’s nice to look at the Moon in the daytime against the blue sky.
  • Last Quarter: The Moon is three-quarters of the way around the Earth when it looks like this. All of the sunlight is now on its left-hand side.
  • Waning Crescent: The Moon has travelled almost all the way around the Earth during the month when it looks like this. At this point, it is almost a New Moon. When it is a New Moon, we see no light shining on it at all. The Sun’s light is shining only on the far side of the Moon during a New Moon, so we cannot see the Moon at all from Earth.

Other Moons of our Solar System

  • Saturn has many moons. Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, is one of the most beautiful moons in the Solar System. It has an ocean under its surface that is made of very, very cold water. Every now and then, this water explodes out of the southern half of this moon. The water shoots out of slits in its icy surface, and is shot hundreds of kilometres out into space. Hyperion, another one of Saturn’s moons, is very strange indeed. Most moons go around their planet in a nice, smooth path, but Hyperion tumbles around Saturn. Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, has an atmosphere made of methane and ethane. Methane is a smelly gas, so this must be a really smelly place.
  • Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, is an interesting ice moon. It has a smooth icy surface that is covered in lines. The surface is full of fractured ice sections and is very unusual. Under Europa's surface is a cold ocean. Sometime in the future, a spacecraft may land on this moon, drill a hole in the surface and put in a submarine to see if there is anything living within it. Io is another one of Jupiter’s moons. Some people think that it looks a bit like a pizza, but actually, the marks we see are caused by active volcanoes. Io's volcanoes can spray sulphur and sulphur dioxide hundreds of kilometres above its surface. What goes up then falls back down, creating huge circular red, yellow, white and black bruises across its surface. Callisto, another of Jupiter’s moons, is very beautiful. Callisto is one of four of Jupiter’s moons that we can see through a small telescope.It was first discovered by Galileo in 1610.
  • Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons, is made of ice and is almost the same colour as the planet.  
Full Activity Description

Step 1

Present the slideshow of moon images (Images 1–22).

Step 2

Spend just a minute or two on each slide (depending on the group’s age) and relay the related scientific information. Keep explanations brief and encourage the group to be vocal from the start.

Step 3

At the end of the slide show, ask the children to vote for their favourite moon.

Step 4

Repeat the slideshow using a vocal voting system. Ask the kids to give a big ‘Yay!’ for the moons they like and a ‘Boo’ for the ones they don’t like.

Step 5

Tell the children that they will be drawing the most popular moon(s). Help them to study their choice in further detail. Remind them to note its shape, colour and texture.

Step 6

If the children need a visual reminder, invite them to tell you which moon they want to see again by name or by a relevant detail. ‘Do you want to see the smelly, methane moon? Is it one of the moons that has a cold, icy ocean under its surface?’

Step 7

Give the children pastels for drawing on black paper (messy but effective), crayons on white paper, felt pens or watercolours.

Step 8

Hold an exhibit of the childrens' Deadly Moons.

Step 9

Follow up with a brief evaluation. It is not vital that they recall and understand absolutely everything, but they will go away knowing that (A) there are many moons in our Solar System and (B) these moons are very beautiful.

Additional Information

Follow-up questions

  • The Moon: Who knows how many moons the Earth has? What is the name of the line between daytime and nighttime on the Moon? Remember, it sounds like a famous movie. How many of you have ever seen the Moon in the daytime?
  • Europa: What do you think it would be like to live in a cold, icy ocean? Why do you think many of the features on moons are named after famous people?
  • Hyperion: What do you think this is?
  • Mimas: How many of you have heard of the Death Star?
  • Io: What does this moon look like?
  • Atlas: What do you think this is, or what does it look like to you?
  • Phobos: Do you think this moon looks like a potato?

Did you have fun with Deadly Moons? What is your ‘deadliest moon’? Why do you like it? Did you learn something new about The Moon? What do you see when you look at the Moon at night? Many of the other moons in the Solar System are named after characters in myths and legends. If you could, what would you name our Moon? What is the name of the line between day and night on the Moon? What is the most surprising thing you learned in this workshop?