How to Make a Moon Phase Clock

Written by lily dew
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How to Make a Moon Phase Clock
This clock is a visual aid for understanding the moon's phases. (lunar eclipse image by UBE from

A moon phase clock is not only a decorative timepiece, but also can be a useful tool for conceptualising the moon's phases, also known as lunar phases. Using the centre point to represent the Earth, this moon phase clock is a visual representation of how the Earth's position and the moon's shadow interact to create lunar phases.

Clock kits can be purchased at many craft stores, making this a simple project that kids can accomplish with some adult assistance.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Craft clock kit
  • Moon phase calendar
  • Dinner plate
  • Heavy cardboard
  • Dark blue paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Scissors
  • Glue

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  1. 1

    Using a large dinner plate, trace a circle on the cardboard.

  2. 2

    Cut out the cardboard circle and use the scissors to carefully poke a hole in the centre of the circle. When doing this project with children, an adult should assist with this step.

  3. 3

    Paint the cardboard circle dark blue and allow it to dry fully before continuing. You may want to paint a strip of yellow on one side of your clock to indicate the direction of the sun.

  4. 4

    Cut out twelve moon phase pictures. Be sure to include the full range of moon phases from full moon to new moon, when the moon cannot be seen, as well as the first and third quarters, when half of the moon is visibly illuminated.

  5. 5

    Glue the moon phase images to your cardboard circle at the points where the numbers would be on a conventional clock.

    Imagine that sunlight is coming from the right of your clock. Place an image of the first-quarter moon, which has just the right half illuminated, at 12 o'clock. Glue the third-quarter moon picture, which shows the opposite side of the moon illuminated, at the 6 o'clock mark. Halfway between the quarter moons, the new moon and full moon should fall on 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock, respectively. Fill in the other hour marks with your remaining moon phase images, using a lunar calendar as a guide if necessary.

  6. 6

    Attach the pieces of your craft clock kit to the centre of your cardboard circle, being sure to follow the accompanying instructions.

Tips and warnings

  • A moon phase calendar can be printed off the Internet, bought at a science or gift shop or hand drawn.
  • For a more durable clock, substitute cardboard for plywood or a wooden plaque.

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