Some Astronomical Misconceptions


                                                                    (If you think of any others, we'll add them to the list.)

Earth; rotation and revolution

  • The Earth is a perfect sphere.
  • Latitude and longitude exist only at sea.
  • The Sun rises exactly in the east and sets exactly in the west every day.
  • Stars and constellations do not rise or set.
  • There are an exact number of days in a year.
  • Water goes down the drain in different directions in different hemispheres.
  • North, south, east, and west are exact places on Earth.
  • We experience seasons because of the Earth's changing distance from the Sun.
  • Winter is cold because of "indirect" heating by the Sun.
  • The Earth is the center of the Solar System.
  • Everyone on the Earth shares the same seasons on the same dates.

Moon and its phases

  • The Moon can only be seen during the night.
  • The Moon does not rotate on an axis.
  • The phases of the Moon are caused by shadows cast on its surface by Earth or by other objects in the Solar System.
  • We see all sides of the Moon.
  • The far side of the Moon is always in darkness


  • All the stars in a constellation are near one another.
  • All stars are the same distance form the Earth.
  • The constellations form patterns clearly resembling people, animals, etc.
  • The constellations consist of only the stars making the patterns.
  • The North Star is the brightest star in the sky.
  • Stars leave the sky during the daytime.
  • Stars really twinkle.
  • Constellations, especially those of the Zodiac, have magical powers

Gravity and space travel

  • There is no gravity in space.
  • The space shuttle acts as a gravity shield so astronauts don't feel gravity inside.

The Solar System

  • The Solar System is very crowded.
  • The Solar System contains only the Sun, Moon, and planets.
  • Meteors are falling stars.
  • Comets sweep across the sky like meteors.
  • Comet tails stream behind the comet as the comet moves.
  • Comets are burning.
  • Planets are close together or are large compared with the distances between them.
  • The planets are always arranged in a straight line away from the Sun.
  • Alignments of planets are dangerous and can affect the Earth.
  • Your personality and future are determined by the positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets.
  • Planetary orbits are circular.
  • Mercury is hot everywhere on its surface.
  • Giant planets have solid surfaces.
  • Saturn is the only planet with rings.
  • Jupiter and Saturn are made of gas.
  • The Sun is made of molten lava and is solid in parts.
  • The asteroid belt is crowded and dangerous.

Stars and the Universe

  • The galaxy is very crowded.
  • All stars are the same size.
  • Stars are all white and have no colors.
  • Stars live forever.
  • Black holes are huge vacuum cleaners in space, sucking up everything.
  • The redshift of galaxies is caused by the Doppler effect.
  • The Big Bang is just a theory; there is no real evidence supporting it.
  • Alien life visits us on a regular basis.