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Years 5 and 6: Our Place in Space

Earth and its Place in Space

The Solar System: our home in Space

Space and the Solar System

Cosmic Quest: the Solar System

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Solar System for Kids

The Sun and the Moon

Theories about Earth

Our understanding of the universe has changed over time. Different civilisations have created different models to explain what the universe is and how the universe began.

Long ago, people believed that the Earth was flat and that you could sail off the edge.

Ptolemy's model: "Earth-centered," or "geocentric".Ptolemy thought that all celestial objects — including the planets, Sun, Moon, and stars — orbited Earth. Earth, in the center of the universe, did not move at all. NOTE: The outer planets, like Uranus and Neptune, are missing from both charts because they had not been discovered at the time. The planets are lined up to make the charts easy to read; they never line up this way in nature.


Galileo discovered the existence of moons. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was an Italian astronomer working at a time when all Scientists believed the earth was the centre of the Universe and all planets orbited it (the geocentric model). Using the newly invented telescope he discovered that Jupiter had four moons. As these moons were orbiting Jupiter itself, this showed that not everything orbited the Earth. Galileo’s findings put him into conflict with the Catholic Church as they believed the geocentric model. He spent a large amount of his life under house arrest as a result of his beliefs.

Copernicus’ model: "Sun-centered," or "heliocentric". Copernicus thought that the planets orbited the Sun, and that the Moon orbited Earth. The Sun, in the center of the universe, did not move, nor did the stars. His model was based on observations with the telescope – work pioneered by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642).Copernicus was correct about some things, but wrong about others. The Sun is not in the center of the universe, and it does move, as do the stars. Also, both Copernicus and Ptolemy thought the orbits of the planets were circular, but we now know they are elliptical.

Famous Astronomers

How Much Do You Weigh on other Planets?

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How the Planets and Satellites got their Names

Quick Links

TWLH Chart

We use a TWLH chart to show our thoughts and ideas about a topic.A TWLH chart includes four sections with the headings: What we Think we know, What we Want to learn, What we Learned, and How we know.

Save this blank TWLH chart to your computer.

Annotated Diagrams

are drawings which are labelled to explain a scientific process. 

  • give your diagram a heading
  • make a simple outline drawing
  • use arrows, labels and a colour key
  • draw an imaginary magnifying glass as above to show tiny or invisible particles