The solar system in my living room

Last month I made a (roughly) scale model solar system ready for a group of school kids visiting the telescopes – and then the visit got cancelled by bad weather. Ah well, sooner or later it’ll get used.

Here at last is a photo of it.

The sun is far too small – it should be about 10 x larger. And then, anticlockwise from the sun, we have marbles for Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars (Mars is a small, red marble, and rather hard to spot.) At the back we have painted plastic footballs for the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn (Jupiter should be 20% bigger) followed by tennis balls for Uranus and Neptune.

The distances between the planets aren’t to scale either. I was going to spread them out over 15 m inside the telescope dome, although that still leaves the planets too big. Really, it should be 4 m (13ft) from the sun to Earth, and 12 km (7.5 miles) from the sun to Neptune!

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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