A true-to-scale illustration of our solar system

Two space boffins have built a true-to-scale model of the solar system in the Nevada Desert, and it's mesmerizing.

It’s disappointing to find out that our primary school education on the planets and outer space was flawed.

It first started with the Pluto debacle – is it a planet or isn’t it?  – and now, it turns out that everything you knew about the solar system is way off scale.

“Every single picture of the solar system that we ever encounter is not to scale,” says Wylie Overstreet. “There is literally not an image that adequately shows you what it [the solar system] looks like from out there.”

So, the classroom charts illustrating our solar system do not give us an adequate understanding of the sheer size of our solar system. “The only way to see a scale model of the solar system is to build one,” Overstreet says.

So, Overstreet and his space-buff companion Alex Gorosh set out to build a true-to-scale model of our solar system on a dry lakebed in Black Rock desert, Nevada. The scale was based on Earth as the size of a marble orbiting around a sun a metre and a half in diameter, with the reality of the distances quite confounding.

“To create a scale model with an Earth only as big as this marble, you need seven miles [11 kilometres] of empty space,” Overstreet says.

The pair created a time-lapse video of the orbits of their marble planets stretched across the desert.

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