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Scale model of Solar System planets

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#1 gfamily

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Posted 12 December 2019 - 05:27 PM

Our Astro Society was asked if we could lead a couple of sessions for a local Cub scouts group to prepare them for their Astronomy Badge.

 

A lot of the content is around the Solar System, so we thought that we'd assemble some appropriately scaled models.  At a craft shop we were able to pick up Polystyrene balls in following sizes which are pretty close to representative.

 

     10cm - for Jupiter

       8cm  - for Saturn (about 5mm too small) 

                  to which we added a card 'hoop' for the rings - inside diameter  9cm, outside diameter 19cm

       4cm  - for Uranus and Neptune (c 5mm too large)

       1cm  - for Earth and Venus  (1 & 1.5mm too large respectively)

    0.5mm for Mars and Mercury (Mercury about 0.1mm too large)

 

If you can get a beachball about 1 metre in diameter, that will stand for the Sun.

We painted the 'planets' in appropriate colours using acrylic paints and they looked pretty good.

 

You can play with the scale factors on this Google Sheets on my drive

https://docs.google....dit?usp=sharing

 

The calculation cells are locked, but you should be able to select your 'base' planet using the blue dropdown, and then select what size you want it to be using the left hand yellow cell.

 

The right hand yellow cell allows you to select the size you want for the orbits (obviously on a completely different scale to the planets).

I have a 15 metre tape that works well for Sun - Neptune, so Jupiter at 2.6m fits that scale.


Edited by gfamily, 12 December 2019 - 05:41 PM.

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#2 gfamily

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Posted 14 December 2019 - 04:15 PM

Just had it pointed out that Mars and  Mercury should be 0.5 cm rather than 0.5mm



#3 bumm

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Posted 14 December 2019 - 06:48 PM

I put a scale model of the solar system together about 35 years ago for a few talks I was giving.  I wasn't real particular with the colors...  This is Saturn and the Earth - Moon system.

                  Marty

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  • Earth, Moon, & Saturn  (2).jpg

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#4 Eagle Butte Observatory

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 03:54 PM

I am always amazed how many ways and different scales can be employed to teach solar system through models.


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#5 gfamily

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 04:25 PM

I am always amazed how many ways and different scales can be employed to teach solar system through models.

My favourite is that if the Earth Sun distance is an inch (2.5cm),

the closest distance to Jupiter is about the width of your hand;

the distance to Saturn is about the length of your hand,

and the distance to Neptune is about the length of your outstretched arm.

 

and usefully, this corresponds to a light year being a mile.


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#6 kathyastro

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 05:46 PM

A member of our local RASC chapter has made similar models (with similar sizes) for kids' outreach events.  When he does his demonstration at the annual star party, he also does the distances to scale. He paces out the distances and places the models, on sticks, at the appropriate distance from the Sun. With the Sun located at the event building, Pluto (yes, he includes it) is about a kilometre away at the entrance to the campground!


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#7 bumm

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 07:17 PM

One thing that usually got a reaction when I'd show the planets in post #3 and tell the distances between them was when I'd get to the end and explain that at this scale, where the Earth is a half inch in diameter, the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, would be 27,000 miles away.

                                                                                                                     Marty


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#8 tchandler

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Posted 18 January 2020 - 02:26 PM

That’s a fun project. I’ve recently made a scale model of the Big Dipper, showing what the cluster looks like in 3D. Scale is 1 metre to 10 light years. The Milky Way is still 4 times the diameter of the earth at this scale. And the earth at this scale is the size of an atom. 


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#9 jeg

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 12:53 PM

I'm a volunteer at the John J. McCarthy Observatory in New Milford, CT and we built a scale model based on a 6 ft. diameter Sun. Pluto is 4.4 miles away.

 

Here is what they looked like all together before being installed around the town. Come visit when in the neighborhood. (www.mccarthyobservatory.org)

planetpyr005.jpg


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#10 grif 678

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 06:11 PM

I'm a volunteer at the John J. McCarthy Observatory in New Milford, CT and we built a scale model based on a 6 ft. diameter Sun. Pluto is 4.4 miles away.

 

Here is what they looked like all together before being installed around the town. Come visit when in the neighborhood. (www.mccarthyobservatory.org)

planetpyr005.jpg

I really like the fact that you included Pluto.


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#11 Araguaia

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 09:26 AM

I use a big yellow ball for the Sun, a lentil for the Earth, a lemon for Jupiter, and grains of sand for assorted objects.  The scale is not exact but it really doesn't matter - the effect is the same.  Then I have the students hold them at the appropriate distance.  Of course, Neptune the peanut is all the way across our small town, which makes quite an impression... 

 

Then I tell them that the nearest star would be in London and they are really impressed.


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#12 Toups

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 09:48 AM

There is a solar system scale model installed in Washington DC.  See Note there is a pdf "lesson plan" that one can download on this page also.



#13 gfamily

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 02:26 PM

This is part of what's suggested is the world's largest Solar System model, which is situated in the village of Otford, Kent in England. 

Made to a scale of 4,595 km per mm, this part of it is in Christchurch New Zealand and represents the star Ross 154, the 7th closest star to the Solar System. 

Ross 154.JPG

 

 

details of the model

http://www.solarsystem.otford.info/


Edited by gfamily, 27 January 2020 - 02:26 PM.

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#14 jtsenghas

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Posted 28 January 2020 - 10:24 PM

I favor the scale promoted by Guy Ottewell in "The earth is a peppercorn" using common small objects for planets to reinforce the sizes instead of models. Look it up.

 

At this scale the sun is an 8" bowling ball (or urban streetlight) and the distances among planets can be hiked in a session in which they are discussed. 

 

At this scale,  the nearest star to the sun would still be as far away as England is to the midwest US.


Edited by jtsenghas, 28 January 2020 - 10:25 PM.

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#15 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 29 January 2020 - 09:41 AM

If one astronomical unit is made equal to one inch, Proxima Centauri would be 4.2 miles away.


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#16 jtsenghas

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Posted 29 January 2020 - 10:16 AM

If one astronomical unit is made equal to one inch, Proxima Centauri would be 4.2 miles away.

To describe the emptiness of space I like to mention that fact,  but also to expand upon it in three dimensions. 

 

If you imagine the sphere 20 miles in diameter with us at the center,  at that same scale there are only 11 luminous stars and one faint dwarf in that volume.  Mere grains of sands at that scale totaling less than 8 solar masses. 


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#17 zleonis

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Posted 29 January 2020 - 10:23 AM

If one astronomical unit is made equal to one inch, Proxima Centauri would be 4.2 miles away.

A nice feature of using 1AU:1in scale is that the number of inches in a mile is almost exactly equal to the number of AU in a light year (Dave, I think you may have pointed this out in a related post). At this scale the Sun would be just barely visible to the unaided eye (240 μm), and the earth the size of a bacterium (~2.2 μm). 


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#18 Araguaia

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Posted 29 January 2020 - 11:37 AM

Then again, if you keep using inches and miles, your students might grow up to build Mars landers that crash... 


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#19 jtsenghas

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Posted 29 January 2020 - 12:46 PM

Then again, if you keep using inches and miles, your students might grow up to build Mars landers that crash... 

Point taken! 

 

For those of you in more enlightened countries,  if an AU were reduced to 2.5 cm, only eleven luminous stars and one faint white dwarf would be within a sphere 32 km in diameter centered at us,  the 10 LY radius!  




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