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!
- 50 metres string
- 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
- Unroll the 50 meter length of string.
- Attach the Sun tag to one end of the piece of string.
- Attach the planet tags in correct order and distance from the Sun.
- 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.
|Size(scale 1 metre = 118 million kilometres)||Distance from Sun||Average real distance(millions of kilometres)|
|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|