A Solar System Scale Model Meta Page
The idea: Making scale models of the solar system is a useful way to learn about it.
Here are various related pages.
Some general background info...
Scale model solar systems...
- The Thousand Yard Model, or The Earth as a Peppercorn
(This is the
There is also a second online version.)
Here is an outdoor activity. Photos of another. A lesson plan. Another.
- 10 The Size and Distance of the Planets
- Scale Model Demonstrations of the Solar System
- Schoolyard Solar System (also here at NASA)
- Cosmic Wheels - Measuring the Orbits of Planets(PDF) (from here) a lesson plan
- Build A Solar System (online calculation)
- Solar System Live (current planet positions)
Shows the real current layout of the inner and
outer system, or both (using a bigger image).
It also has
"logarithmic" (the default) and
Remember the Sun and planet icons are not to scale. Not even close.
The Toilet Paper Solar System
- Activity: Toilet Paper Solar System and the Side note: why toilet paper? [or receipt paper]
Night-Time Model Solar System
- Giant Solar System Model / AN INTERPLANETARY HIKE
- Our Solar System: The Planets and Their Motion
- Boston Museum of Science's Community Solar System ,
Bicycle of the Solar System activity
Size and Scale.
(Also Welcome to the Universe and exhibit blurb.)
- The Boston Museum of Science Solar System has additional photos.
- The Eugene, Oregon Scale Model Solar System community solar system
- Lakeview Museum's Community Solar System (can be slow),
and a related article.
- Distance and Scale: Activity 1
Part of Planetary Curriculum Module: NAVIGATING the SOLAR SYSTEM.
- Scale in the Solar System - Activities
AST 201, Fall 96, Lab 3: The Orrery
Scaled Solar System
Universal Proportions another lesson plan
A View from the Back of the Envelope 's
Giga , and
Terameters in your hands.
- Scale Model of the Solar System
- A demonstration of the relative sizes of the planets (and
distances of the planets, and more)
The Solar System Story
The relative size of Earth, Jupiter, Sun (1 : 10 : 100)
Solar System with balloons a lesson plan
- Solar system temperature diagram from
How did the Earth Get Here?
Data Sheet for Model of Solar System
How Big is the Solar System?
- Sagan Planet Walk,
a community solar system from
Ithaca NY's Sciencenter.
(A related article TAKE THE KIDS TO MARS is gone)
Page 3: Planet Size Comparison Exercise
The Living Solar System (under construction) from
NOAO K-12 EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH ACTIVITIES
- Model of THE SOLAR SYSTEM
SOLAR SYSTEM ACTIVITIES FOR THE CLASS ROOM
A Simple Scale Model of the Solar System
CVSF - Scale (was "IT'S ALL A MATTER OF SCALE !")
Student Project Sheet 3: More to Explore
The Universe At Your Fingertips - Activities
THE SOLAR SYSTEM
A100 Homework 1
Scale Solar System Model
Scale Model of the Solar System
- Some objects - was part of this page.
Additions... (aka, What's new?)
- Space Art: We Are the Solar System
- Clay Planets (an older version)
- Making a Model of the Solar System
- Solar System Simulator
- Calculating Measurements in Space
- Gainesville Solar Walk with a list of other models.
- Foster Planet Walk at Aquinas College.
- A Solar System Scale Model for Pasadena - A Proposal.
- Community solar systems bring the celestial down to earth
- Tours of
Model Solar Systems
- Sweden Solar System
- Welcome to Cycle the Solar System in York
- Colorado Scale Model Solar System
and Voyage: A Scale Model Solar System For Washington DC and Beyond
- The Maine Solar System Model and an article about it.
- Powers Of Ten-like: Quarks to Quasars, CERN's, Cosmic View, another, How Big Are Things?(drafty).
- Project PLATO Lesson Plan - scaling
- The Orrery (Science U)
- North Georgia Astronomers' Millennium Project, aka The Gainesville/Hall County Scale Model/Walking Tour of Our Solar System
- The Virtual Solar System Scale model
- What colour is the Sun? and my What color is the Sun?.
- The Earth, The Sun, and The Moon - Grade 1 (some interesting activities)
- Scale of the solar system
- Planetary Icosahedrons (fold your own globes!)
- SURFACE OF THE EARTH ICOSAHEDRON GLOBE (mail order, but cheap)
- Making globes of the planets
- Size Scales in Astronomy
- An example of combining Solar System Scale Model resources
- Interstellar scale
- Madison Planet Stroll in Wisconsin
- Our View of the Solar System
and Solar System Stroll Activity lesson plans
- Classroom Activity: A Grapefruit Saturn
- ASTRO UTAH Scrunch the Universe
- ASTRO UTAH Solar System Spreadsheet
- Our Solar System Gallery - The Thousand Yard Model (page 5) (PDF)
- A Stroll Through the Solar System (PDF)(gone?)
- Build Your Own Comet
- February 2001 Colorado Springs Astronomical Society Journal of High Altitude Observing (President's Corner, page 2) (PDF)
- Planet Trail in Austria
- Lowell Observatory Pluto Walk with photos
- Voyage - A Journey Through Our Solar System
- Harry's "Comparative Astronomy" Pages (Or: how much we can get out of drawing circles)
- A Scale Model Demonstration of the Solar System (PDF)
- Java models, which may crash your browser. None of the planet dots are to scale.
Explore the Solar System ,
Solar system view ,
The "Visible" Solar System and others ,
Ulysses in the 3D Solar System ,
Comet Halley's Orbit in the Solar System ,
Solar System Viewer ,
and moons [moon dots are not to scale] ,
and create imaginary solarsystems ,
Travels in the Solar System ,
Animation: Our Solar System ,
Animation: Upsilon Andromedae vs Our Solar System ,
Voyager 1 and 2 trajectories ,
Inner Solar System Model ,
A Scale Model of the Solar System [begins looking northward (opposite of usual)]
J-Track 3D [Earth only. Crashes my browser.]
- Solar System Models
- Solar System Scale Modeler another online calculator
- Astronomy for Simple Minds musing [some mistakes, "pops down" an ad window]
- The Scale of the Solar System and Nearby Stars
- Hagen community solar system
- Plateful of Planets and
The Dynamic Solar System activities from Paper Plate Education
- Silver City's Sidewalk Solar System
- Bringing the Solar System Down to Earth (lesson plan)
- Bonsall Elementary Model Solar System
- Solar System Scaled Down: Lesson on Proportions
- Scale Model of Our Solar System (activity)
- Teacher page, Schoolyard Solar System science lesson
- ENC Scale Model Solar System Lab
- A Sense of Scale
- 8th grade drawing scaled down solar system
- How big is the solar system? by John Silveira
- Solar System on a String
- Solar System- Making a Scale Model [DOC] (as html)
- Journey Through The Solar System
- "Alpha Centauri placed 100 yards away" [PDF]
- A planetary scavenger hunt - `in which students try to
find planets in the grass outside their school by using a length of
string that they have cut to the relative distance that the planet
should be from the sun.' (Part of a teaching module for high school
science classes, being developed as part of the `Mercer County Science
Alliance program in New Jersey'. [Pointer from Daniel Fishman
- Use your head - "imagine your own head as a model Earth.
If you're in the northern hemisphere, imagine North America on the
right side of your forehead and South America sitting on your left
cheek, dripping off your chin like a kind of continental goatee.
Africa is hung over your left ear, and Eurasia forms a skullcap
across the back of your head. The right side of your head is almost
all Pacific Ocean except for Australia, located "down under" and
behind your right ear. [Turning your head, bring...] locations on
your model Earth around to experience sunrise, noon, sunset, and
midnight. Where is the Sun rising while your part of the Earth sees
it setting? Which part of the world is sleeping while you eat your
lunch?" ["Getting a Global Sense" by LuAnn Dahlman, in Mercury,
May-June 1998 p6]
- "When I was a kid I used to build scale models in my back yard
with marbles, etc. then and look at it through my telescope." [a
I wonder if the models have more potential than is usually utilized.
One might have an intermittent rule `noone is allowed to move around
the area any faster than light speed'. Or compress time and run the
planets around, recapping students' lifetimes in a few minutes. Add
Voyagers as out of plane elements to give a sense of depth and of
gravity as something that can be played with. Include context, like
the lay of the galactic plane, the direction to the core. Solar wind
and heliopause, to make the surrounding void also interesting.
There seem lots of potentially neat ideas.
If your club does construct a model, perhaps a write-up, reflections
or report, for the net...? "Trip reports" are often both easily done
and fun to read.
- Using receipt paper: For
the Toilet Paper Solar System, a reader suggests cash-register
receipt paper as more durable. The tradeoff is loss of
premeasurement and humor.
What I would like to see...
- A web-based "spreadsheet" which allows one to give/take objects (lightbulb, marble, various balls, etc), rather than just measurements.
- Scaled orbital and solar system velocities too, even though they
are rather small in realtime.
- Adjustable time so one can do `run around the room for five years'.
- Kid-accessible descriptions of "invisible" solar system structure
(solar wind and planetary envelopes and wakes)
- Light issues (running around at light speed, truncated light cones from
flashing flashlights, etc)
- A visual spreadsheet webpage. So a `not necessarily
numerate child' (though I'd enjoy it too) could just click among `If
the Sun (picture) is the size of a: [lightbulb (picture)], [pin-head
(picture)], ..., Earth the size of a: [globe (picture)], etc', and get
a diagram of the solarsystem - pictured on a desktop if it fits, or in
a room, or amidst cars and buildings, an air-photo of a town, a map,
the Earth, etc. With appropriately sized objects suggested for the
planets and such. If the page took an background image url and
meter/pixel number, folks could create links customized with local
There are several scale model of solar system
pages out there, but at the moment (1997.Mar.04), they do not seem to
be well interconnected. This page is intended to provide interim
interconnection. As sites dedicated to astronomy/education take up
this content, this page will eventually be phased out. This grew out
of a usenet posting of mine. Contributions
Interconnection is improving (1998.Mar.04), but has a ways to go.
This page remains supported. Comments encouraged.
Comments encouraged. - Mitchell N Charity <email@example.com>.
Bos Sci Mus has a board with halved/embedded balls:
marble, ball bearing, flecked translucent ball,
ping-pong, golf, wiffle, soft, soccer, basket
for a `match planet to ball' exercise.
Too big - reorg!
So many links now - time to review page organization.
Add inflatable earth/moon/mars planet ball/globes?
Find some VRML.
glissando.gsfc.nasa.gov/vu a candidate, but looks abandoned.
Automate Excite "documents like this one" neighborhood exploration.
2003-Aug-23 Added 1 link. Thanks to a reader.
2003-Aug-10 Added 13 links. Fixed 2.
2003-Jun-08 Added 2 links.
2003-Apr-22 Added 2 links. Thanks to a reader.
2003-Apr-12 Added reader comment re receipt paper.
2003-Apr-11 Added Hagen css link. Thanks to a reader.
2003-Feb-04 Repaired links - 4 added, 6 changed, 3 flagged, 4 removed, 1 left.
2002-Dec-14 Migrated 1 link.
2002-Sep-10 Added `Java model' section and links, 3 other links, and a reader quote.
Changed contact email, and linked homepage.
2002-Jul-31 Fixed 1 link. Thanks to the site author.
2002-Jul-30 Added 2 links.
2002-Jul-19 Added 16 links. Fixed 7 (related) links. Fixed 4 links. Removed 3 dead links.
2002-Jun-23 Added link.
2002-May-27 Updated link.
2002-May-06 Added `Madison Planet Scroll'.
2002-Feb-20 Added link. Thanks to a reader.
2002-Jan-01 Updated link. Removed `Dec special'.
2001-Nov-28 Added link. Added `live schoolyard example', as `Dec special'. Edited SSLive.
2001-Nov-16 Added link.
2001-Nov-14 Added link.
2001-Oct-20 Added `Planetary Icosahedron' - thanks to a reader. Added 4, flagged 1, fixed 4.
2001-Jun-05 Added 2 links.
2001-May-21 Added 2 links.
2001-Apr-10 Added 2 links. Restored one. Flagged broken link.
2001-Feb-18 Added `Powers of Ten' links.
Removed two new broken links, and Brokenness section w old ones.
2000-Oct-18 Added `Maine SMSS' - thanks to a (different) reader.
2000-Oct-06 Added `Colorado SMSS' - thanks to (the same:) reader.
"Additions" moved above broken links, and indented.
2000-Oct-03 Added York's `Cycle the Solar System' - thanks to a reader.
2000-Oct-02 Added `Tours of' and `Sweden' - thanks to a reader.
2000-Sep-24 Added `Community [..] down to earth'.
Fixed 4 links, flagged 2.
Thank you readers for your positive feedback. :)
2000-Mar-09 Fixed a link.
2000-Mar-07 Fixed a formatting bug (an unclosed `small').
Shrank this History section to font size=-2.
2000-Mar-02 Added Pasadena proposal (Thanks to Charles Kohlhase).
Link repair - 1 fix, 2 flagged.
2000-Jan-21 Added visual spreadsheet idea. Link repair.
1999.Dec.14 Link repair - fixed 2, dropped 1 `also here' link.
1999.Nov.11 Added Getty's `Space Art'. Link repair.
1999.Aug.14 Some link repair (they are now checked automatically).
1999.Jul.26 Checked links. Broken ones fixed, removed, or left labeled.
1999.Jun.09 Rusk's `Simple Model' moved.
1999.Jun.08 Added `Foster Planet Walk'.
1999.Mar.19 Added `Solar System Walk'.
1999.Mar.02 Added `Clay Planets', WSanford, `Explore' applet, `Simulator'.
Thanks to a reader's search.
1999.Jan.26 Found relocated `Toilet Paper Solar System'. Thanks to author.
1999.Jan.20 Added `A Night-Time Model Solar System'.
`Toilet Paper' link now broken. Some others.
1998.Dec.30 Fixed link for a relocated page.
1998.Sep.17 Added `Use your head' quote.
Moved `Some Objects' section into its own page - to shorten this one.
1998.Sep.10 Added `Make a Scale Model Solar System' link, and another.
1998.Aug.18 Added `Solar System Live', thanks to a reader's suggestion.
1998.Aug.11 Removed yesterday's `tides from your thumb' idea. I had bungled it,
and I don't now see a clean way to present it correctly.
1998.Aug.10 Added `tides from your thumb' idea.
1998.Jul.10 Added a random link.
1998.Jun.26 Added a few more links. Hacked a tool to do a transitive
`like this' closures on Excite.
1998.Jun.19 Added several links, courtesy of Excite's "documents like this one".
1998.Jun.04 Added Jack Van Dusen's Eugene project.
1998.May.21 Slight reorg. Checked links. Added a few links
by searching AltaVista for pages with links to these.
1998.Apr.05 Added paragraph of ideas from an email just written.
1998.Apr.04 Added Ithaca Sciencenter, `Terameters', "Doables:".
1998.Mar.31 Added some MOS.org links. Changed list format.
1998.Mar.11 Added `The Thousand Yard Model'.
1998.Mar.04 Added a few links. Checked and fixed others.
1997.Sep.27 Added `A demonstration of the relative ...'.
1997.Sep.18 Added `Bos Sci Mus ball-board' note,
and `Megameters in your hands' link.
1997.Aug.10 Added `The relative size of Earth, Jupiter, Sun'
1997.Jun.01 Added `planetary scavenger hunt',
and `back of the envelope' pointer.
1997.Mar.20 Added nasa `Planet Size Comparison Exercise' link.
1997.Mar.17 Added `Comet Hale-Bopp' link.
1997.Mar.04 Almost done for today.
1997.Mar.04 Began this page. A morning project.
(Web search done previously.)
1997.Feb.27 Responded to a posted inquiry.