Have you ever really sat down to think about how much space there is in the universe? It’s pretty inconceivable, but there are some useful tools that can help put things in perspective. You’ve already seen a scale model of our solar system by mass, so here is a model of the space between our planets that can fit in your pocket!
What you need:
- Long strip of paper
First, cut a strip of paper long enough that it roughly spans the distance of your arms. Then, have a marker handy to be ready to indicate where each planet will lie.
- Label one end of the strip as the sun and the other as Pluto/Kuiper belt.
- This will show the full distance between the sun and the outer reaches of the solar system.
- Fold the paper in half and crease it. That line is for Uranus, it is roughly halfway between Pluto and the sun!
- Fold it in half again (it should now be in quarters). The crease between Uranus and Pluto is for Neptune.
- The crease that is between the sun and Uranus is for Saturn.
- Now fold the sun to Saturn and mark Jupiter in that crease.
- We have completed all of the gaseous outer planets, meaning that all that is left are the rocky inner planets, which fit between the sun and Jupiter!
- Fold the sun to Jupiter and label it as the asteroid belt, the area in our solar system where some of the largest known asteroids live.
- Now fold the sun to the asteroid belt. This is where Mars goes.
- We will complete the remaining three planets in the last step.
- Fold the sun to Mars, then fold in half again. Closest to the sun is Mercury followed by Venus, then Earth.
Take a look, roll it up, and there you have it! A basic scale model of the distances between the planets of our solar system that can fit in your pocket. Would you have been able to guess how much space there is relatively between our planets? Did any of the spacings surprise you?
Written By: Mimi Garai