Rotating Question Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer

How do I make a scale model of the Solar System?

Hi, I teach 8th grade science and I wanted to take my students outside onto the football field and have them represent the solar system. My questions are: If we go out to the field and make the earth the size of a marble, how big and how far away should the other planets and the sun be? I looked at solar system live and I will be able to place the planets from there, but I don't know how far apart they should be? Do you have any suggestions?

P.S. Our field is just a little bit larger than 2 football fields.

I worked out what a scale model of the solar system would look like with the Earth the size of a 1 cm marble, but I don't think it'll fit in your space! Here's what I got:

Object Diameter (cm) Distance from Sun (m)
Sun 109 --
Mercury 0.38 46
Venus 0.95 84
Earth 1.0 118 (387 ft)
Mars 0.53 178
Jupiter 11.2 610 (2000 ft)
Saturn 9.4 1120
Uranus 4.0 2250
Neptune 3.9 3530
Pluto 0.18 5800 (3.6 miles)

So, it doesn't look like this particular scale will work. To fit it on the space of two football fields, I think you will have to use something very small, like sand, or points on a piece of paper, for the smallest planets. I found a site that will calculate the scale model for you if you input the Sun size. I would just try putting in different sizes for the Sun and see if you can get something that will work for you.

Two other sites that have information about building scale models are a site with a huge number of links about scale model solar systems and a site with teachers instructions for model solar sytems for different middle school age groups.

March 2003, Lynn Carter (more by Lynn Carter) (Like this Answer)

Still Curious?

Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:

More questions about Planets: Previous | Next

How to ask a question:

If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.

Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist

URL: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=480
This page has been accessed 31476 times since March 5, 2003.
Last modified: March 5, 2003 2:23:23 PM

Legal questions? See our copyright, disclaimer and privacy policy.
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.

Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)