Determining the Scale for a Model of Solar System

A scale model is a miniature replica of the real thing. Scale models, however, aim to replicate the actual object’s proportions as close as possible. Creating a scale model requires much effort and care; it includes math, sculpting, and drawing. Before beginning construction on the model, a significant amount of thought should be put into its overall layout. A scale model of the solar system, then, is a model that precisely depicts the relative sizes and distances of the planets. Because they are portrayed side by side, most solar systems representing planets revolving around aren’t accurate representations of their real-world scales. As you can see, the planets are far away in the real world

In this project, you can depict the distances between the planets in the Solar System on a scale model. As a scientific and astronomy project for youngsters, it’s excellent for both the classroom and the living room.

Creating a Scale Model of the Solar System

solar system model

The first thing you should do to build your solar system scale model is to gather the necessary materials. You will need to create a scale solar system calculator for this project. Building this playground-sized solar system model, you will use spreadsheet software to measure planet sizes and distances.

  1. Examples of solar system images that aren’t scaled down
  2. Software for creating spreadsheets (e.g., Excel or Sheets)
  3. Symbols of distance (cones, ground stakes, etc.)
  4. Paper, Colored pencils, pens, and pencils
  5. Measurement ruler marked in centimeters
  6. Measuring tape
  7. Get a PDF of the sizes and distances of the solar system.
  8. You can download the Scale Distance spreadsheet in either CSV or XLSX formats.
  9. Download the XLSX or CSV file for the scale size spreadsheet.
  10. Download the XLSX or CSV file for the scale size and distance spreadsheet.
  11. Styrofoam balls with different sizes, paints and sticks

1. Learn about the sizes and distances of objects and planets in our solar system.

Saturn Scale Model

The solar system has vast distances. Astronomical units are sometimes used to express distances between planets due to the enormous space separating them. There are around three billion miles between the Sun and Neptune in one solar system circle, which is four billion kilometers. One AU measures the average distance between the Sun and Earth as 93,000,000 km or 150,000,000 km. Thus, scientists can define and quantify distances.”

Introduce pupils to the size and distances of the planets in the solar system using the given spreadsheet formula. Use not-to-scale representations of the solar system and planets to demonstrate how inaccurately lengths and sizes are typically depicted in art. Aim to explain why photographs commonly show distances and sizes in this manner. Using one cm-scale model of the Earth, have your kids estimate Earth’s distance from the Sun. Ask the students to compute the scale model, scale distance model, and both, using the given guide: 

  • Help students create a Scale Distance spreadsheet. Students should enter distance data. One astronomical unit is how many centimeters? 1au/10cm. Neptune’s distance is 10 feet if 1 au = 10 cm. Choose a workstation wisely. In the scale model, students’ formulas will determine planet-Sun distances. Multiply the scale by au. Millimeters measure planet distance. Multiply the cm column. =B3*10 multiplies the planet’s au distance by the scale. 3=row, B=column in a cell table. Calculate each planet’s distance using the other cells. Students must adjust formulas in other column cells to point to the proper table cell. Students may be repeating the formula without changing the reference cell if they get the same answer in every cell. Mercury’s scale distance =B3*10, Venus’s =B4*10, etc. Use rulers or measuring tape to determine how distant planets are from the Sun based on your scale. Because planets don’t circle the Sun in a straight line, encourage pupils to place them at the correct distances around the orbit. When calculating distances to many planets, students should use a new scale (15 cm = one au) and column. Ask pupils to guess how lengths will vary with their new scale value before calculating.
  • Open the Scale Size spreadsheet or help students create one. Have students enter size data now. Decide or let the class decide Earth’s scale model diameter. Discuss proportions and ratios with kids to computing planet sizes. The ratio of a planet’s scale diameter to Earth’s scale diameter equals its real diameter. Scale planet/earth diameter = actual planet/earth diameter. By knowing the two planets’ actual sizes and Earth’s scale diameter, students can rearrange the equation to find the other planets’ scale diameters. Create a spreadsheet function to calculate this. In the example below, =(B5*C6)/C5 calculates the product of Earth’s scale diameter (B5) and Mars’ actual diameter (C6) divided by Earth’s actual diameter (C5). Use Earth’s scale diameter, Earth’s actual diameter, and each planet’s diameter to get the remaining planets’ scale diameters. Have pupils create planet-sized circles using a ruler, compass, string, or protractor. Students can color planet-shaped circles.
  • Assist the kids in creating a spreadsheet titled “Scale, Size, and Distance.” The class determines the diameter of the Earth on the scale. They are choosing the size of the solar system by utilizing proportions and ratios. The actual diameter is proportional to the scaled distance away from the Sun. Scale diameter to accurate diameter equals scale distance from Sun. Students can solve equations using a planet’s diameter, space, and Earth’s scale diameter. Create a calculator function. =(B5*E5)/D5 divides Earth’s scale diameter (B5) and distance from the Sun (E5) by Earth’s actual diameter (D5). Students must rearrange proportional ratios and develop functions using Earth’s scale diameter to calculate other planets’ diameters. Changing Earth’s scale diameter recalculates other planets’ scales. Students can develop a spreadsheet to compute planet diameter and distance with the below equation. Mars’ scale diameter is obtained by dividing Earth’s scale diameter (B5) by Earth’s actual diameter (D5). Earth’s diameter and proportionate ratios are used to find planetary distances. Planet distance/earth diameter = scaled planet distance/earth diameter. Draw giant circles with a ruler, compass, rope, or protractor. Planets can be colored. Right-click the Sun (the playground’s center) and click “measure distance” Zooming may be needed to see distances. Depending on the scale model, gas and ice giants may be off-campus. Students should choose a map location far from the Sun in this situation (e.g., a park or a neighborhood store).

List of Celestial Objects

2. Create your scale model. After doing the necessary measurements, It’s time to put your model together! Creating and displaying a scale solar system is possible in various methods. Consider drawing up a blueprint for your model before you begin building. Make sure each part is as close to the original as possible. When taking measurements, use a tape measure or a ruler to ensure that each one is accurate. Your plan will assist you in getting ready for the construction of each component of your car and will provide you with a preview of what the completed result will look like.

3. Each planet should be painted using the correct color closely related to the description of a world. Make sure to apply several coats to each Styrofoam or other material. As far as possible, arrange the pieces to appear like the natural solar system. Glue all your parts together according to your drawing on paper. Let the model dry out for a few hours before moving on to the next step in your plan. 

True color of the solar system

4. Display your solar system scale model. Pop in each of the planets’ balls with a cocktail stick, ensuring enough is sticking out to force them into the ground. Be cautious when manipulating the stick on the smaller planets. Use a clear plastic or card and PVA glue to adhere various-sized stone chips onto the surface to produce the asteroid belt effect. Anchor the tape measure with a barbecue skewer at one end of a long, clear, level patch of ground. Plop down the Sun in some nearby greenery as soon as you’ve measured 10 meters. Ensure you push into the ground while gripping the stick, not the ball. If it’s windy, each stick will keep the planets and the Sun in place.

When you build this model around your playground, some of your friends will be closer together than others when you develop a solar system distance model. Some of your pals will have to stand quite close together, while others will be far enough away to have difficulty hearing what you have to say! It’s easy to observe that Jupiter and Saturn are enormous compared to the other planets. Earth and Mars are the closest inner planets to the Sun and each other, whereas Mercury, Venus, and Earth are the farthest from the Sun and the other planets. The solar system’s composition is not uniformly distributed. The Sun, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are responsible for most objects in the solar system. This project will let your students realize that we live on a little dot in the universe.