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Understanding the phases of the Moon is a perennial stumbling block in introductory astronomy classes. In the film, "A Private Universe," for instance, both Harvard graduates and gifted high-school students display serious misconceptions about the Moon's phases, believing, among other things, that the Earth's shadow on the Moon is the cause of it all. Part of the problem may stem from textbook illustrations that show a view of the Moon in orbit around the Earth with the Sun of to one side. Students have trouble converting mentally from this "God's eye" perspective into the "geocentric" perspective we experience as observers on the Earth looking at the Moon. As an aid in developing this skill of visualizing the same phenomenon from different frames of reference, I have lately taken to employing video techniques in the classroom. [excerpt]



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