While we all know that the Sun is very big and very far away, its actual size and distance from Earth can be hard concepts to grasp. Many Solar System models that we see inaccurately display the relative size of the Sun compared to the planets, and almost all models inaccurately display the true distance between Solar System objects. This isn’t due to a lack of astronomical knowledge, but rather the amount of space that an accurate model would require! For example: an accurate model with a marble-sized (one inch in diameter) Earth would call for a nine-foot wide Sun and 5.6 miles of space to accommodate Neptune’s orbit. Thankfully, this Scale Model of Sun and Earth activity will give participants a much better understanding of the relative size of the Sun and Earth and the distance between them – and you only need sixty five feet of space to do it!
For this activity, you will need Sun and Earth cutouts from the activity page, a hallway or open space at least sixty five feet long, and a yard stick or measuring tape. You may also use a piece of string pre-measured to sixty five feet. First, use the cutouts to show the extreme difference in size between the two – you can fit 109 Earths across the Sun’s diameter. Next, have participants guess how far away the model Sun should be from the model Earth by walking to that location. After participants have guessed, place the model Sun sixty five feet away from the model Earth to accurately represent the 93 million miles between the two.
Make sure to leave a review of the activity after trying it out!