Some students may hold the belief that the Sun travels around the Earth

Earth and Space


This is what they appear to observe with the Sun moving across the sky and at night the Sun is on the other side of the Earth.

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

  • Day and night: what we know and how we know (5-11)

    The cycle of day and night is caused by the rotation of the Earth as it spins on its axis once every 24 hours. Because of this spinning motion, the Sun appears to move through the sky but in reality, it is the Earth that does the moving.

    This effect is like being on a train when the train next to you starts moving. Often you think you are moving only to realise, when you look out of the other window, that it is the other train that is pulling away.

    View Resource
  • The solar system: what do we know? (11-14)

    This is a summary of what we know about the solar system.

    View Resource


  • Pine, K., Messer, D. & St. John, K., () Children's Misconceptions in Primary Science: A Survey of teachers' views, Research in Science & Technological Education, 19, (1) 79-96.

    Paper digest

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

    Paper 1 and Paper 1

  • G. Sharp, 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

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