Understanding of the Earth/Sun/Moon system represents a major cultural nexus in the history of ideas as well as being an important conceptual area in junior science teaching. The situation is one in which the objects in question can be observed but do not lend themselves to hands‐on experience in the case of the Sun and Moon or to obvious meaningful experience of the system in the case of the Earth. Children from 9 to 12 years of age were questioned using a clinical interview technique and stimulus materials, about the shape, size and motion of the Earth, Sun and Moon. A number of alternative views appear to be held. The use of a similar procedure with a group of children would seem to offer a powerful teaching methodology in which both teacher and students gain from the dialectic learning situation that is developed by this technique ‐ apart from providing insights concerning children's understanding.