Good Fact #1: The Solar System

Written by on June 21, 2010 in Good Fact Series with 0 Comments

The Universe is a very big place, at scales beyond our day to day human experience. The new Good Fact Series attempts to relate a variety of celestial objects to more common recognizable situations, all the while keeping comparisons fun and entertaining with hopes the reader will achieve a memorable understanding of the subject.

So watch out for new posts in this catergory as I will add others from time to time. Until then, please enjoy the first installment, this one compares distance of planets in the solar system.

Scale = 1:1,000,000,000 (One billionth scale)

What does a billionth mean to you? Well, it is certainly a very small fraction, small enough to be difficult to imagine…  or is it?

Earth would be the size of larger blueberry at a billionth its size. And at what size and how the far would all the planets be from one another at this scale? Let’s find out…

In this comparison I will be using New Yorks’ Shea stadium to show how far the planets are away from each other. So grab your ball cap and your binoculars too, because this one is going to be outta of the park

Behold, the inside of Shea stadium… Now, I understand that not everyone will be familiar with Shea Stadium (me included), however I think we all have a good feeling for how large stadiums are and even how big a Pro baseball field can be. If you examine the graphic closely you’ll see the Sun has been positioned over Home Plate, again we’re dealing with a scale of 1:1,000,000,000th (one billionth) so the sun is roughly 57 inches in diameter, or the size of a winning Pumpkin from a country fair growing contest.
And out from home plate we will find the other planets progressively going further out into center field.

Mercury is the first planet from the Sun and at 1:1,000,000,000th scale is 190 ft away from Home plate. That puts us out beyond second base. Mercury would be the size of a Peppercorn at this scale, so imagine a little peppercorn sitting out in centre field.

Next is Venus. At the size of a Green Pea it sits at 354 ft away from the Sun, almost twice as far as Mercury. And the next one is out-of-the-park… Earth is over the wall for a HomeRun hit that has not quite made it to the Parking lot. At the size of a large Blueberry it is almost 490 ft away from home plate.
A good 3 iron could probably put the ball out where Mars is … sorry I am mixing my sports here. At the size of a Coffee Bean it would be 747 feet away from the sun.

OK, that covers the Inner most Planets… now we have to go for a larger view to see the rest of our solar system. Our cantaloupe sized Jupiter is almost 3/4 of a kilometer away, a coconut sized Saturn is almost 1.5 kilometers away, Uranus as a juicy plum would be 2.8 kilometers away, Neptune the Apricot is 4.5 kilometers away and last but not least Pluto the Coriander Seed, is almost 6 kilometers away.

Well, there you have it! A model of the Solar system using only several city blocks, a baseball stadium and basket of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Enjoy.

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