Some students believe that the intensity of sunlight at a place does not change from day to day during the year

Earth and Space


Sunlight-based explanations for seasons involve sunlight centrally but do not consider the distance of the earth, the tilt, or its orientation. Rather, solar energy is described as being directed or isolated to specific locations.

Resources to address this

  • Explaining the seasons   (11-14)

    Ref - SPT ES04 PN06

    There must be another explanation for the seasonal changes. Here is a loop showing the variation of the solar radiation arriving over a year (repeated a few times, so you can see the pattern).

    The explanation depends on the amount each square metre of Earth is warmed by the Sun; most in the summer, least in the winter.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Lee, V. R., () How Different Variants of Orbit Diagrams Influence Student Explanations of the Seasons, Science Education, 94,


    Review sheet

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