Sizing Up The Solar System

Learn how far apart things are in our solar system. Discover the scale of the planets!
An illustration of the planets of our solar system all lined up.

Pocket Solar System - Activity Outline PDF
Our solar system is made up of eight planets and many other objects orbiting the sun. In this activity, you will create a meter-long model of Earth's neighborhood and discover how far apart the planets are.

Solar System on a String - Activity Outline PDF
Model the scale of the solar system with this hands-on activity. Hang it from the ceiling or lay it across the floor and see how tall you are compared to the distance of the planets at this scale! Display it on the wall and use it as a roadmap to the planets as you dive deeper into space learning!

Model the Sun/Earth System - Activity Outline PDF - Summary Instructions
Measure out a scale model of the actual distances of planets in the solar system. Hypothesize the distance, calculate the distance, then go outside and measure out the distances between the inner planets. If it is dark where you are, try bringing five flashlights - one per person for each planet and the sun. This can also be extended into a factoring lesson.

Big Sun/Small Moon - Activity Outline PDF
We can see a solar eclipse here on Earth because the Sun and Moon appear to be the same size in the sky. Explore how you can trick your eyes with size and distance. Discover that the further away an object is, the smaller it appears. Use any two round objects that are different sizes!

A labeled image of the planets and major objects of our solar system lined up.


 

NASA Space Science Education Consortium logo.This project was funded under NASA cooperative agreement NNX16AL65A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
All photos from NASA unless otherwise credited.