On July 20th, 1969, NASA’s Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. Inside the Lunar Lander were astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. On this day in 1969, they landed in the Sea of Tranquility, a lunar basin. On July 21st, Neil and Buzz became the first humans to walk on the Moon!
NASA would go on to land a total of six missions on the Moon, the last of which took place on December 7th, 1972. Only 12 people have ever walked on the moon.
Earth only has one moon (some planets have many!). The Moon orbits the Earth in a synchronous rotation, which means we always see the same side of the Moon. The side we can see is called the “near side” and the side we can’t see is called the “far side”. It takes about 28 days for the Moon to orbit the Earth.
The Moon may looks different from Earth depending on its relative position to the Earth and the Sun. As the Moon orbits the Earth, the Sun illuminates one half of the Moon. Depending on Earth’s position related to the Moon and the Sun, we see some of the sunlit Moon and some of the shadowed Moon.
Depending on what day you look at the Moon, you might see a Full Moon (totally round and bright), a Crescent Moon, a Quarter Moon, a Gibbous Moon, or the New Moon (when the Moon is totally dark from Earth).
To learn your Lunar Phases, download and print our Moon Phase Memory Game. Click on this link to download the pdf: Moon Phase Memory Cards
Then print two copies of the sheets (you should print 4 pages total – so that you have 2 of each Lunar Phase card). Cut out the cards. If you can see the shape of the Moon through the back of the paper, glue the cards to a thicker paper (like cardstock).
Once all of your cards are made, find a friend (or two or three!) to play Memory with. Shuffle all of the cards and flip them upside down on the floor in front of you. Take turns turning over 2 cards per turn. Try to remember which card is where. When you find a match, you get to keep those cards, and take another turn. Once all of the cards are paired up, the person with the most pairs wins!