Some students look at their observations of the world and decide that the Sun is closer to the Earth than the Moon is

Earth and Space


Resources to address this

  • Solar eclipses (11-14)

    Ref - ES04 PN08

    A total eclipse of the Sun, a solar eclipse, is caused by the Moon passing between the Sun and the Earth.

    It is important to recognise that this diagram is not drawn to scale. While the proportions of the Earth and Moon are correct, the distance between the Earth and the Moon is far too small, as is the size of the Sun. If it was drawn fully to scale, the Sun would be nearly 4 metre to the left and 70 times as big.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • 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

2023 IOP Awards

Teachers of Physics Awards

Recognising and celebrating outstanding contributions to the field of physics education.

Learn more