What is a Shadow?

What is a shadow?

What is a shadow?, Image Credit: Flickr User dvs, via CC

I follow you around in the light, I say goodbye to you in the night? Who am I?


Does everything has a shadow?

Take a look around and see what all things form shadows. You will notice that swings, trees, cars, tables and almost everything else has a shadow. Any object – living or non living that can block light can cast shadows.

Leaf and a banner both have a shadow

Leaf and a banner both have a shadow, Image Credit: Flickr User: Image credit zeevveez, via cc

How are shadows formed?

Sometimes objects can block light which means that no light is able to pass through that object. An object from which no light can pass through is called an opaque object. The easiest example is our body. Stand in the way of a beam of a light from a small torch. Ask someone to stand behind you and spot the beam of light. The person behind you will see no light since your body did not allow it to pass. Whenever light is not able to go through an object, it creates a dark area around the object. This patch where the light can not reach is called a shadow. Opaque objects create clear dark shadows.

The opaque stem of the pumpkin blocks the light to form a sharp shadow

The opaque stem of the pumpkin blocks the light to form a sharp shadow, Image Credit: Flickr user Muffet, via cc

Why do shadows keep changing sizes?

The size of the shadow depends on the angle at which the light is falling on the object. Your shadow keeps changing throughout the day. It is longest in the early morning and the late afternoon? At noon, when the sun is overhead there is little or no shadow at all. Why? The position of sun changes throughout the day, thus changing the angle at which the rays fall on the ground. A long time ago people tracked the length of shadows throughout the day to keep track of time. The world’s earliest clock was a sun clock.

Why does our shadow chase us?

Shadows are our constant companions

Shadows are our constant companions, Image Credit: Flickr User: Georgie Pauwels, via cc

If the source of the light is moving, the direction of the light rays in which they fall on the object also changes. This movement of light from the source makes the shadow move. In the case when the object is moving, the shadow moves as it is formed where all the moving object blocks light. It is that simple!

Did you know that shadows are used to make puppets? Yes, they are, and such an art is called Shadow Puppetry!


  1. Awesome shadow information, perfect for our daycare children as an activity starter. Thank-you very much! Sanders Creative Kids

  2. Awesome. I have learnt the definition of a shadow, it was good for my Concept Map homework. I would have got a C instead of an A+ if it was not for this website.

  3. I really like this website it will help me with my science test this week !!
    And when my lil sis go’s into kindergarten and grade 1,2 and 3…
    I can help her with her science

  4. Im a kid and I say that all I though was the shadows were made of blocked light, I guess I was right but this website made it even more understandable.

  5. My sister once asked me if total darkness was ‘just one big shadow.’ I said, “No, – because all shadows need a source of light to be cast…”
    Am just remembering the sheer, sweaty struggle of our physics tutor as he did his best to explain that light did not weigh anything! It is quite possible that in the way he was explaining, that he was Wrong! I shall leave the answer to that one for each to find out. Most folks would be surprised about how the question is answered! Regards. Steve. i & i Art.

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