Lesson 5: Solar and Lunar Eclipses


This activity requires approximately three 30-minute classes

  • 1 Class for the Lunar Eclipse WebQuest
  • 1 Class for the Solar Eclipse WebQuest
  • 1 Class for students to write an explanation of the differences between solar and lunar eclipses


Observe and explain how the relative positions of Earth, the Moon, and the Sun are responsible for the moon phases, eclipses, and tides.

General Objectives

Through this activity, students will become more familiar with solar and lunar eclipses and will have an opportunity to see some fascinating pictures and video clips of eclipses. Because the activity includes a WebQuest component, students will also become more familiar with Internet researching.

Curricular Connections

  • Information and Communication Technologies
    • Internet research
  • Language Arts
    • Descriptive writing

Lesson Overview

This activity involves two WebQuest Internet research components. Students will use the Internet links provided to research solar and lunar eclipses in an attempt to better understand the relationship between the sun, moon and Earth. Students will also be presented with fascinating eclipse pictures and a look at the astronomers who chase eclipses around the world. The last part of the lesson involves having students write an explanation as to how solar and lunar eclipses differ.

Materials and Resources

Nota : This page contains documents for which the access may require a particular software. If the software is not installed, you can download it and follow the instructions for installation.

Student handout:


WebQuest URLs:


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

Developing the Lesson

  1. Comment that this is a group investigative activity
  2. Handout resources...
    • Student WebQuest sheet
  3. Explain time frames
    • approx. 1 class to explore solar eclipses via WebQuest
    • approx. 1 class to explore lunar eclipses via WebQuest
    • approx. 1 class to write explanations
  4. Explain lab protocol
    • what students can and cannot do in the computer lab
    • when the time is up, STOP!
  5. Assign students to groups
    • 2 students per group
  6. Dismiss students to their groups to begin their task


As a closure to the activities, the teacher uses the applet in a lecture-style delivery format, stopping the animation at key moments and eliciting feedback from the students as to an explanation for the type of eclipse observers on Earth would see.


Possible Marks 6 4 2 0
Computer lab research and group work Excellent participation and group work Level of participation was adequate Little evidence of work Student was off-task most of the time
Completed WebQuest activity sheet Evidence of excellent research WebQuest is missing key components WebQuest is of poorer quality Evidence of very little if any research
Eclipse explanations The explanations given are very explicit in detail and correctly explain the differences and similarities The explanations given have adequate detail and are basically correct Either the explanations lack detail or are very vague The explanation is inherently wrong and lacks any evidence