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Distances in the Solar System: Scale Model of the Solar System - Windows to the Universe

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A Solar System Model Builders Guide

Imagine you want to build a scale model of the solar system.

First, you need to decide on a scale for your model. Let's say we decide we'll use a marble that is 1 cm across to represent the Earth. Then how big would the Sun and the other planets be and where would they go?

To figure out the sizes of the planets and the Sun compared to our Earth marble, you need to multiply the 1 cm size of Earth by the relative sizes of the Sun and the planets. So a marble for the Sun would have to be 109 cm across (bigger than a big beach ball), and a marble for Mercury would be about the size of your pencil's eraser.

Next, you need to figure out where to put your model planets. How far are they from the Sun? At this scale, Mercury would be 46 m (151 feet) from the Sun, Earth would be 118 m (387 feet) from the Sun, and Pluto would be more than 5.8 km (3.6 miles) from the Sun!

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Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Solar System Formation

Scientists believe that the solar system was formed when a cloud of gas and dust in space was disturbed, maybe by the explosion of a nearby star (called a supernova). This explosion made waves in space...more

The Solar System

The solar system is made up of the Sun, the // Call the planets count function defined in the document head print_planet_count('planets'); planets and // Call the planets count function defined in the...more

Eris - a dwarf planet

Eris is a dwarf planet in our Solar System. Eris was one of the first three objects classified as a dwarf planet, along with Pluto and Ceres. Eris was first spotted in January 2005. Eris is a large sphere...more

What is a planet?

Do you know what a planet is? If so, you are doing better than professional astronomers! Right now astronomers aren't quite sure how to define a planet. Maybe you've heard that some astronomers think Pluto...more

Orionid Meteor Shower

The Orionid meteor shower happens every year in October. Meteor showers are times when you can see many meteors or "shooting stars" in one night. There are several meteor showers each year. Most meteor...more

Leonid Meteor Shower

The Leonid meteor shower is one of several major meteor showers that occur on roughly the same date each year. The Leonids typically "peak" (are at their greatest level of activity) in mid to late November....more

Meteor Showers

A meteor shower is an astronomical event during which many meteors can be seen in a short period of time. Most meteor showers have a peak activity period that lasts between several hours and a couple of...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support!