Some students assume the Earth, Sun and Moon are approximately the same size

Earth and Space


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.

Diagnostic Resources

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)

    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)

    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)

    An estimate of the diameter of the Moon using a photograph of a lunar eclipse.

    View Resource


  • Philips, W., () Earth science misconceptions, The Science Teacher, 21.

    Paper digest

  • Jones, L, B., Lynch, P. P. & Reesink, C., () Children's conceptions of the earth, sun and moon, International Journal of Science Education.

    Paper digest

  • Osborne, J. et al., () The earth in space: Primary space project research report, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

    Paper 1 and Paper 1

  • 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) 685-712.

    Key paper digest

  • Slater, V, E., Morris, E, J. & McKinnon, D., () Astronomy alternative conceptions in preadolescent students in Western Australia, International Journal of Science Education, 40 (17) 2185-2180.

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