Making a Scale Model of the Solar System

Take a moment and imagine our solar system. Think about what it would look like if you were moving through it in a space ship. Once you have that image in your mind, get ready to replace it with a much more accurate image.

Our solar system is a very large place, and most of it us empty space. Because of the way it is shown in textbook drawings, on TV, and in movies, most people have trouble imagining the actual sizes and distances of the planets. This simple activity lets you use a scale model to visualize those sizes and distances.

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Download the Planetary Data Sheet.

You can find the current locations of the plants at : The Planets Today. This is an outside web page, not part of The Happy Scientist website.

Materials:

  • a roll of string at least 25 meters (80 feet) long
  • one or more colored markers
  • Meter stick or yard stick
  • metal key ring
  • a sturdy stake or rod for the Sun's location. The key ring should be large enough to fit around the rod.
  • 8 or more flags to mark planets and other objects
  • printed copy of the Planetary Data Sheet
  • printed copy of the current locations of the planets