Some students have ideas that the Sun gets covered and that is what causes night

Earth and Space


For example, the Sun might get covered by clouds, the Moon, or something called “night”.

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

  • Why do we get day and night?  (5-11) & (11-14)

    Ref - SPT HS03 TL03  &  ES04 TA03

    Simple blocking explanations: These explanations all involve something getting in the way of the Sun, blocking its light and thereby creating the darkness of night. Common wrong tracks include arguing that the Moon, clouds or hills and mountains cause sunlight to be blocked.

    This is a 'wrong track' idea.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

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


    Review sheet

  • Osborne, J., Wadsworth, P., Black, P. and Meadows, J., () The earth in space: Primary space project research report, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

    Review sheet

  • 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)


    Review sheet

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


    Review sheet

Limit Less Campaign

Support our manifesto for change

The IOP wants to support young people to fulfil their potential by doing physics. Please sign the manifesto today so that we can show our politicians there is widespread support for improving equity and inclusion across the education sector.

Sign today