Copernicus – Sun, Earth and Moon

Nicolaus Copernicus was an astronomer born in February 1473 who realised that the Earth orbits the Sun, an idea that was strongly opposed at the time.

The model proposed by Copernicus was called Heliocentrism ( helios means Sun ), where the Sun is motionless at the centre with other planets rotating around it in circular paths. Copernicus’s ideas marked the beginning of modern astronomy.

Facts about Copernicus

  • Copernicus was also a physician, scholar, economist, translator, mathematician and artist!
  • The chemical element Copernicum (symbol Cn and atomic number 112 ) is named after Copernicus.

We’ve got an easy activity to help children visualise how the Sun, Earth and Moon move around each other.


Black cardboard

Yellow, blue and grey paper or card



You’ll need three children to take part in the demonstration. One will be the Sun, one the Moon and one the Earth.

Make three hats to represent the Sun, Earth and Moon using cardboard and a stapler or glue.

Ask the Sun to stand in the centre and the Earth to walk around the Sun in a circle. The Moon should then walk around the Earth in a circle as the Earth circles the Sun.

Extension Idea

How many other planets can you add to your demonstration?

Think about how long it takes the Moon to orbit Earth and how long for the Earth to orbit the Sun, ask the children to change their walking speed to reflect this.

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