Some students assume the Earth, Sun and Moon are approximately the same size
This may be due to the misrepresentation of the sizes of celestial bodies in diagrams. They might also think that the Earth is bigger than the Sun.
The following worksheets may help to identify whether students hold this particular misconception.
For more information, see the University of York BEST website.
Resources to address this
Learning more about the moon (5-11)
Ref - SPT HS03 TA07
The last part of this activity involves comparing the relative sizes and distances of the Earth, Moon and Sun.View Resource
Building a model of the solar system with fruit (11-14)
Ref - SPT ES03 TA02
Here you construct a model of the solar system to show the relative size of the planets, the distance of each planet from the Sun and the spacing between the planets.View Resource
Diameter of the Moon (11-16)
Ref - Practical physics / Astronomy / Early astronomical measurements/
Diameter of the Moon
An estimate of the diameter of the Moon using a photograph of a lunar eclipse.View Resource
The following studies have documented this misconception:
- Phillips, W., () Earth science misconceptions, The Science Teacher,
- Jones, L, B., Lynch, P. P. & Reesink, C., () Children's conceptions of the earth, sun and moon, International Journal of Science Education,
- Osborne, J., Wadsworth, P., Black, P. and Meadows, J., () The earth in space: Primary space project research report, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
- Sharp, G, J., () Children's astronomical beliefs: a preliminary study of Year 6 children in south‐west England, International Journal of Science Education, 18 (6)
- Slater, V, E., Morris, E, J. & McKinnon, D., () Astronomy alternative conceptions in preadolescent students in Western Australia, International Journal of Science Education, 40 (17)