The size of the Solar System HorE.gif - 1338 bytes

The size of the Solar System and the distance to the stars

You can read about the diameters of the Earth, Sun, Moon and planets in thousands of kilometres and the distances between them in millions of kilometres, but Sam realises that the only real way for his friends to understand the size of the solar system is to make a model.

So one fine day he and ten of his friends from his school walk along the rocky path from the lighthouse onto the long sandy beach. They take with them a football, some Plasticine®, a 30 cm school ruler, a jamjar of granulated sugar, some pieces of white card and a felt tip pen, and their mobile phones. Sam’s Dad comes too, with his big video camera.

They all walk back to their starting point, where Thomas is still holding the Sun - it takes them less than fifteen minutes. Sam explains that the Sun is our nearest star, and that on this scale it would take them three months to walk to our next nearest.

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© Barry Gray April 2020