Lesson 4: Observing and sketching the lunar surface


This activity requires approximately one 40-minute class

  • 1 Class for students to sketch the moon with chalk using their observations*

*Note: this activity is dependant on students having made observations of the moon using binoculars. Ensure that you warn students well in advance so that they have enough time to make observations of the moon using binoculars. Two weeks is a good timeframe, as it will also allow students to bring in sketches depicting different moon phases.


Record observations using a single word, notes in point form, sentences, and simple diagrams and charts (e.g., use a data table to record night sky observations)
Compile and display data, by hand or by computer, in a variety of formats including frequency tallies, tables, and bar graphs (e.g., prepare a diagram showing the orbits of the planets)
Observe and explain how the relative positions of Earth, the Moon, and the Sun are responsible for the moon phases, eclipses, and tides

Curricular Connections

  • Visual Arts
    • Sketching the lunar surface

Lesson Overview

This activity involves two components. In the first, students are assigned the task of observing the moon with aid of binoculars (provide two weeks for students to complete their observations). Students will then use their observations to make a more detailed sketch of the lunar surface using white chalks.

Materials and Resources

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Student handout:

Images of the moon:

Other Resources:

  • black construction paper
  • white chalk


  • lunar eclipse
  • solar eclipse
  • partial eclipse
  • penumbra
  • umbra
  • total eclipse
  • annular eclipse
  • corona

Developing the Lesson

  1. Introduce the activity observing and sketching the moon
  2. Instruct students to begin observing the moon on a nightly basis
    • students may want to compile a series of lunar sketches but will only be required to do one for the purpose of shading with chalk.
  3. Distribute black paper and white chalk to students and instruct them to reproduce their chosen sketch on the black paper with the white chalk. Special attention should be given to shading of the lunar surface.


Imagine that you are Galileo and the year is 1610...

Remind students that Galileo used a telescope, similar in power to binoculars, way back in 1610. Imagine that you are Galileo, what would it be like to moon through a telescope? Have students write a short paragraph about what it must be like to be the first person on Earth to see the moon in such detail. Student's should indicate that it must be very confusing and goes against everything that was held as "truth" for centuries.


This activity is intended for students to gain a deeper appreciation for the moon and more specifically, the lunar surface. Evaluation should reflect care and attention to detail.