Scale model of our Solar System

April 27, 2013 | By | Add a Comment
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I put together the below activity as a concrete way of showing how large the distances between the planets in our Solar System are. The scale of the model is 1 meter = 118 million kilometers.

An optional extra is to find a piece of rope (dimensions given below) which shows you how big comets can be. Comets are the giants of the Solar System. They have been known to exceed one million kilometers in diameter with a tail 150 million kilometers long – greater than the distance between the Sun and the Earth!

Material required

  • 50 metres string
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape
  • Tags with planets shown correctly scaled: Labels for Solar System scale model
  • Metre ruler
  • 30cm ruler
  • Optional: Contact for protecting labels
  • Optional: Rope 1 cm in diameter by 1.28 meters long (to represent a correctly scaled comet)

Making the Solar System

  1. Unroll the 50 meter length of string.
  2. Attach the Sun tag to one end of the piece of string.
  3. Attach the planet tags in correct order and distance from the Sun.
  4. You are finished! When you have finished going “Wow! We are so small!” you may want to use an old cardboard tube to carefully roll the string around. Speaking from experience, it will mean you are less likely to have a mess the next time you unroll the model.

Background information

 Size(scale 1 metre = 118 million kilometres) Distance from Sun Average real distance(millions of kilometres)
Sun  1.2 cm  N/A  N/A
Mercury  Too small to see  49 cm  57.9
Venus  Too small to see  92 cm  108.2
Earth  Too small to see  1.27 m  149.6
Mars  Too small to see  1.93 m  227.9
Jupiter  1.2 mm  6.6 m  778.3
Saturn  1 mm  12.1 m  1,429
Uranus  0.4 mm  23.36 m  2,875
Neptune  0.4 mm  38.17 m  4,504
Dwarf planet Pluto  Too small to see  50 m  5,900




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About the Author (Author Profile)

This website is maintained by Paul Floyd. I am an amateur astronomer (and school teacher) with 25 years experience (as at 2015) in running a range of education and public astronomy outreach activities. As of January 2015, I have been providing astronomy information via the WWW for eighteen years.