Questions for “Scientists discover likely source of the moon’s faint yellow tail”

a photo of a large yellow moon in a dark sky with a jet flying past the moon

Most material in the moon’s comet-like tail of sodium atoms, not seen here, were boosted off the moon by micrometeorite impacts, new studies suggest.

Joel Kowsky/NASA

To accompany “Scientists discover likely source of the moon’s faint yellow tail


Before Reading:

1.  Why does the moon’s appearance from Earth differ based on it’s phases? What causes the phase known as new moon?

2.  What are meteors and where do they come from?

During Reading:

1.  What gives the moon’s tail its color. When was that tail first discovered?

2.  What were at least three suggestions that scientists had offered the past as possible explanations for this tail?

3.  Why do more micrometeorites land on the moon than on Earth?

4.  How does the position of the moon’s tail, relative to the sun, make it like a comet’s tail? What is responsible for the tail’s direction?

5.  What role does Earth’s gravity have in making the tail most visible during a new moon?

6.  What did the computer model by the researchers at Kyung-Hee University show about the moon’s tail?

After Reading:

1.  The story says that Earth periodically sweeps through moon’s tail. Do you think that’s dangerous? Explain your answer, based in part some of the ideas you read in the story.