Moon, Sun, and Seasons Name: ______________________
Earth Science B Date: _______________________
You have most likely noticed that, as the seasons change, the height of the sun in sky also changes. During the long days of summer,
the sun is highest in the sky at noon, and during the short days of winter, the sun is lowest in the sky at noon.
The altitude or height of an object in the sky is measured in degrees above the
horizon. With altitude, the horizon is considered 0° and the zenith, or overhead point,
is considered +90°. The apparent height of any celestial object such as a star, planet,
or the moon and sun, can be measured in degrees of altitude above the horizon.
Less noticeable are the seasonal variations in the height of the moon. At new moon,
the sun and moon are in conjunction and appear together in the sky. At full moon,
the moon lies opposite the sun in the sky. As a result, the full moon’s seasonal
behavior is a mirror image of the sun’s seasonal behavior.
In this activity, you will use data to investigate the relationship between the monthly
and seasonal changes in the height of the sun and moon.
1. Review the Data Table. The height of the sun and moon is given in degrees (°) of altitude every few days during one calendar
year. The phases of the moon are also indicated.
2. Use the data to prepare a graph. Label Date along the horizontal axis and Altitude along the vertical axis. The Date axis
should be divided into one square for every date give in the table, and the Altitude scale should be divided into one square for
every 5°. Label the Date axis with the dates listed in the data table. The Altitude axis should extend from 0-90°.
3. Label the approximate seasons in your graph:
Winter: Dec 21-March 20
Spring: March 21-June 20
Summer: June 21-Sept 20
Autumn: Sept 21-Dec 20
4. Plot the noon altitude of the sun on your graph using an asterisk () for each of the dates given. Connect the asterisks to
form a smooth curve.
5. Plot the altitude of each new moon using a plus sign (+). For the waxing (wax) quarter phase, plot the altitudes using a half-
circle with the curve facing right (). For the waning (wan) quarter phases, use a half-circle facing left (). Plot the full
moons using a circled-dot (). Connect all of the plotted moon data by order of date to create a “best fit” curve. You should
obtain a wave-like graph with numerous crests for your moon data.
6. Answer the Analysis and Conclusions below:
Analysis and Conclusions:
1. Use high or low to fill in the following: When the sun’s altitude is __________ in the summer, the full moon’s altitude is
__________. When the sun’s altitude is __________ in the winter, the full moon’s altitude is __________.
2. The full moon and sun appear at about the same altitude twice during the year. In which seasons does this occur?
3. At new moon, the moon is positioned between the earth and sun. In other words, the moon and sun are in conjunction as
viewed from earth. How is this relationship displayed in your graph?
4. On what date is the highest new moon of the calendar year? In what season does this occur?
5. When the moon is low in sky, it often appears orange or yellow in color. The term “honeymoon” may refer to such a moon.
In what season would you most likely see a full “honeymoon”?
Max Altitude of Noon Altitude
Date Phase Moon of Sun
4-Jan New 25.9
13-Jan Wax Quarter 62.9
19-Jan Full 72 29.5
26-Jan Wan Quarter 34.8
3-Feb New 33.1
11-Feb Wax Quarter 69.9
18-Feb Full 60.2 38
25-Feb Wan Quarter 26.5
4-Mar New 45.3
12-Mar Wax Quarter 74.5
18-Mar Full 50.7 48.8
26-Mar Wan Quarter 26.6
3-Apr New 58.9
10-Apr Wax Quarter 71.6
17-Apr Full 36.1 60.5
24-Apr Wan Quarter 30.6
2-May New 66.5
9-May Wax Quarter 64.6
16-May Full 29.6 69.1
24-May Wan Quarter 41.1
1-Jun New 73.7
7-Jun Wax Quarter 55.2
15-Jun Full 26 73.3
23-Jun Wan Quarter 54
30-Jun New 73.4
7-Jul Wax Quarter 39.9
14-Jul Full 28.3 71.7
22-Jul Wan Quarter 61.9
29-Jul New 69.1
5-Aug Wax Quarter 32.2
13-Aug Full 37.4 64.7
21-Aug Wan Quarter 71.4
28-Aug New 56
3-Sep Wax Quarter 27.6
12-Sep Full 50 54.2
19-Sep Wan Quarter 73.6
26-Sep New 46.6
3-Oct Wax Quarter 27.4
11-Oct Full 58.2 43
19-Oct Wan Quarter 68.8
25-Oct New 37.9
2-Nov Wax Quarter 34.6
10-Nov Full 68.9 32.8
17-Nov Wan Quarter 61.1
24-Nov New 28.4
2-Dec Wax Quarter 45.9
9-Dec Full 72.6 27.2
16-Dec Wan Quarter 51.6
22-Dec New 27.3