Some students think that at 12 o’clock noon, the Sun should be directly overhead of the observer

Earth and Space


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

  • The Sun's height and the seasons (11-14)

    This is a teacher demonstration to show the large difference in the angle of incidence of the Sun's rays between midday on 21 December and midday on 21 June.

    Remind pupils of the daily path of the Sun through the sky (rising in the east, due south at noon, setting in the west). Then ask them what is the difference between the height attained at noon in summer and the height attained in winter. 

    Then use the demonstration to show why the height of the Sun at noon varies.

    View Resource
  • Observing the motion of the Sun (11-16)

    This activity involves Tracking the motion of the Sun through the sky for a day, month or year. Students should note the Sun's position at noon from month to month......They should note the height of the Sun at noon at different times of the year. 

    View Resource


  • Barrier, R. M., () Astronomical Misconceptions, The Physics Teacher, 48, 319.

    Paper digest

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