Some students confuse eclipse ideas with the phases of the Moon

Earth and Space


They might say that the phases of the moon are caused by a planet casting a shadow on the Moon.

Resources to address this

  • Why does the Moon change?  (11-14)

    Ref - SPT ES04 TL06

    Wrong Track: The Moon changes shape because the Earth gets in the way of the Sun's rays.

    The third wrong track response is, in effect, a lunar eclipse model where the Earth stops the light from the Sun reaching the Moon. Expect a lot of these as this is common among children and adults.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Pena, B. M., & Quilez, G. M. J., () The importance of images in astronomy education, International Journal of Science Education, 23 (11)


    Review sheet

  • Baxter, J., () Children's understanding of familiar astronomical events, International Journal of Science Education, 11 (5)


    Review sheet

  • Trundle, K.C., Atwood, R.K. and Christopher, J.E., () Preservice Elementary Teachers’ Conceptions of Moon Phases before and after Instruction, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39 (7)


    Review sheet

  • Barnett, M. and Morran, J. () Addressing children's alternative frameworks of the Moon's phases and eclipses, International Journal of Science Education, 24 (8)


    Review sheet

  • Barrier, R. M., () Astronomical Misconceptions, The Physics Teacher, 48,


    Review sheet

  • Sharp, J. G., () Children's astronomical beliefs: a preliminary study of Year 6 children in south‐west England, International Journal of Science Education, 18 (6)


    Review sheet

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