Watching the moon

The small boy has often noticed the moon in the sky and commented on its shape. We've not previously talked about how the shape changes over time, despite looking at the moon quite often, so I thought we could try and look regularly over a lunar cycle (approximately a month - it's 29.5 days).  The idea behind this was that he could learn that it's a gradual progression of how much of the moon we can see each day by being a bit more systematic about when we look at it and talk about it. 

He was quite excited about the idea when I mentioned it, and was telling everyone he saw over Christmas that there was going to be a new moon on Boxing Day (26th December).  As it was, Boxing Day was cloudy, and we wouldn't have seen the moon, even if there was anything to see (the new moon is when none of the side we can see is illuminated by the Sun), but he was surprisingly undeterred and wanted to go out and look the next day.

He's since seen the moon on several evenings and during the daytime, and has noticed it's crescent shape.  We've talked (with the assistance of some slices of cucumber we were eating!) about how the crescent shape is changing and the amount of the moon that you can see is getting bigger, although sadly it's been cloudy most days at the times the moon should have been visible to us so we haven't been able to see it daily as I'd hoped!

Crescent moon in late December

The first quarter (where half of the moon as we see it is illuminated by light from the Sun) was yesterday, but sadly yet again cloud obscured our view! Today he spotted it in the afternoon sky on our way back from the supermarket. It's a little bigger than a semicircle but not noticeably so when viewed without the zoom on my camera, and he was very pleased to see the half moon and asked me to find his camera to take a photo when we got home.

Just after the first quarter moon (3rd January)

The full moon is due to be on January 10th. I'm hoping we can see it before then so the small boy can see the shape of the gibbous moon in a few days' time when it's more obviously bigger than a semicircle. Fingers crossed he can also see it on the 10th to see the whole circular shape! 

The small boy still has the enthusiasm to go out looking for the moon despite our failure rate to date.  If his interest continues, we will follow the rest of the lunar cycle to the next new moon on January 24th (and possibly beyond).  His brother (who is one this month) has also started to notice the moon and point at it when he sees it too, so it's nice to be able to involve the smallest member of the family a little bit too.