Big Sun, Small Moon

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Learners will explore the concept of angular distance, and investigate why the moon appears to be the same size as the sun during a solar eclipse, despite the sun being much larger. Learners will use a plate, quarter, and large open space to run their experiment. Step-by-step instructions with photos and safety measures are included. Activity includes a "What's going on?" section to explain relevant science concepts with helpful illustrations.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Large coin, such as a quarter
  • Large round dinner plate


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
      • The Moon
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
      • Perception

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity


Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DIY Science Apps


  • , The Regents of the University of California, 2014

Funding Source:

  • NASA, NNX10AE05G