eclipse... gravity... atmosphere... OH MY!

As we were leaving the church Wednesday night, Jim called and told us to check out the moon- it was in the midst of a lunar eclipse! Call me a nerd- but these sort of earth events really excite me. I'm the idiot staning out on her porch in 12 degree weather to take pictures of the moon getting darker. I'm that person who really does stay up late to watch a meteor shower. It's all just amazing to me, the pefection and beauty you can find throughout the universe.

And my kids aren't much different- except that they have no clue at all what's going on. Seth tried to explain it to them as he climbed into his truck... "That's caused when the earth passes between the sun and the moon". Sounds simple. Not when you are five and seven.

Putting our seatbelts on, Zach immediately inquired to the area of biggest concern for both him and the ancients... will the moon come back after it gets dark. Ah, I can handle that- of course it will come back! It's still there. It's just like a shadow on the wall- the wall is still there, the shadow just makes it darker. The eclipse is really just the earth's shadow. Easy. I've got this "Mommy-Why?" thing licked.

Then Tali starts thinking... "How does the earth and moon go around the sun?". Trust me, I totally tried the "Because that's the way God made it" here... but that wasn't working, she wanted to know what made it go in circle.


Explain gravity to a first grader. It took humans thousands of years to figure it out.

"What happens if you throw something in the air?" I ask.

"It hits you on the head" Zach matter-of-factly answers. [I'm fairly certain Sir Isaac Newton would agree.]

Mom explains how this is evidence of gravity (as well as Zach's tendency to injure himself with anything he attempts to do). Bigger things have more gravity. The Sun has a lot of gravity- so that holds the earth in it's orbit. The earth isn't quite as big, but is still huge and has a lot of gravity, which holds the moon. The moon is still big enough to land a rocket (in our house, it's a rocket, not a space shuttle) and walk on, but it's gravity isn't as strong. Ta-da... moon goes around the earth... and together they go around the sun... and occasionally they line up and an eclipse results. Done! I'm winning the Mommy Olympics, and getting a little cocky about it. Gravity is fun! Let's keep talking about it.

"How does an astronaut walk on the moon?" I ask.

"They jump all over the place" comes Zach's answer.

"Yes! Why?"

"Because there's no air."

Oh. Not exactly, was going for less gravity. Now we're talking about atmosphere. I try to skim over it- "the moon doesn't have air, but they bounce because of gravity"... Tali and Zach weren't buying it. Why doesn't the moon have air? Won't you die without air? What do you mean there's no air in space? Do astronauts die in space? I don't want to be an astronaut then...

Huh? How did this happen? I did my best to explain, realizing with a sinking feeling that I was far from defeating this "Mommy-Why?" thing. Inquisitive kids mean a lot of questions. I did my best to answer, and I know I was about five years over both of their heads. We arrive home and as a family, observe the lunar eclipse over the next thirty minutes. I took pictures. The kids, apparently giving up on their mom saying anything that makes sense, just enjoyed it and trusted us that it was a normal thing that happens.

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