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What Exactly Is The Mystery Behind the Shadow?

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How and Why is There a Shadow

I’m the type of person that needs to learn new things, in fact I enjoy learning about weird, fascinating or just plain strange things. That’s why I chose to write this, just in case you are the same as me and want to learn all about the making of a shadow.

When we’re kids we play with a lot of the weird and strange things and never give them a second thought. But as adults we seem to lean more to learning and wanting to know why these things happen, or how they happen at least that’s how it is for me.


An Explanation of Shadows

In this explanation, you are going to learn how a shadow forms and why we only see shadows when there is light. When light shines on something that does not let you see through, then a shadow will form on the other side that does not receive the light.

For example, when the sun is shining on you, the sunlight only reaches you from one side, and as a result, a shadow forms on the other side.

If you hold an object on the sun or in a room that has the lights on, you will notice that the object forms a shadow. The object can be a book, a pen, a toy car or anything else. As long as it does not let you see through it, then it will form a shadow on the side that does not receive the light. Objects that do not let you see through are called opaque.

You can have some other projects that let you see through them partly. These objects are called translucent. They behave like opaque objects and at the same time show the characteristics of a transparent thing. A glass window can be transparent or translucent. Other translucent objects include polythene bags, various plastic and glass containers and many document covers.

When light shines on the translucent object, it will still create a shadow on the opposite direction from the light, but the shadow will not be very dark. Very opaque objects create clear dark shadows while those that tend to resemble transparent ones just create a blurry shadow.

Now another thing to note about shadows is their length. Sometimes, shadows will seem very long and at other times, they will be very short. The length of the shadow depends on the position of the light source.

When the light source is almost on a straight light on the side of the object, then the shadow will be very long. As the light source moves towards the top of the object, the shadow becomes shorter, as seen on the bottom surface.

At the same time, you will notice that your shadow created by sunlight is longest in the morning and evening, and when the sun is overhead, your shadow disappears. If asked what it is, you can say that a shadow is an area that the sun can’t reach when an object is blocking it.

Is There a Reason you Would Use Them

You just need to stay imaginative to find one

  • Many restaurants use trees to create shadows for people to enjoy when they are eating out.
  • At home, your house can create a shadow in the backyard, for you to enjoy.
  • Where there is too much sunlight, you can carry an umbrella, and it will create a shadow over you so that you are not exposed to the sunlight.
  • Or like in Britain where they have some amazing talent in the form of Shadow dancing like in the video below

How is it Possible That They Move

There is Two Things that Can Cause this

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First, they can move when the object that is creating them moves. For example, if you are blocking sunlight, you will create a shadow, when you move the shadow will also move. Another reason that makes them move is when the source of light moves. The sun cannot move, but a torch or a light bulb can move. The headlights of a car also move, and many other sources of light move. When the source of light moves, the direction or distance between the object and the source of light changes. Any change that happens between the light source and the object also leads to a change in the shadow.

One thing that does not change with shadows is their source. A shadow will always extend from the object that is causing it. If you are blocking the sun, to form a shadow, then your shadow will stay attached to you. Sometimes, it will seem as if a shadow is on its own, such as when a ball is in the air and you are viewing its shadow. You see this because the ball is not touching any other object, but the shadow of the ball that forms on the ground or on a wall still stretches from the ball, it’s just that you cannot see the stretched part.

They can move and they can change in size. This happens in the same way. When you move closer to the light bulb at night, your shadow will grow bigger. On the other hand, when you move away from the light source, the shadow becomes small.

A Little Shadow Exercise to Try at Home With the Kids

You can try this on your own or with the help of someone else. Just place an object on a table, such as your school backpack, and then switch off the lights in the room. Using a torch as your light source, direct the light on to the bag and notice the length of the shadow formed. Move the torch on the sides or over the bag and notice how the changing position of the light source changes the length of the bag’s shadow.

There are some amazing books that are great for kids, What Makes a Shadow is one of those books geared towards the science end of things. The next super kids book is My Shadow but, I have to say my favourite is all about a rabbit that thinks he can do anything including out running his shadow in this cute little book Nothing Sticks Like a Shadow.

We all have one that is attached to us and I don’t think that we can get rid of it unless of course the sun has set for the night.


Reviewing the Facts Let’s Go Over - What We’ve Learnt

Now, let us go over shadows, to ensure that you understand what they are. Shadows form when an object blocks light. At the shadow area, there is darkness, but because there is light around the object, it may seem that is not very dark.

The shadow will always start where the light is blocked, and if you are blocking the sun, then your shadow will start at your feet. Any shadow can grow or shrink at any time when you alter the distance between the object and the source of light.

With this knowledge, you can create any shadow size that you want. At the same time, you can create fun, using puppets and hand gestures and light so that when you move the hands or puppet, your shadow also moves in the way you want.

© 2020 ravko


ravko (author) on November 08, 2020:

Thanks Umesh for visiting my article

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on November 08, 2020:

Interesting article. Nice presentation.

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