arrow_backTutorials - Sizes and distances

Sizes and distances in the Solar system

The solar system is huge. The distances are so large that they are very hard to visualize. The mean distance between the Sun and Neptune is 4.5 billion km.

Most of us have a hard time grasping the enormity of these numbers, we recognize them as very large but we lack something to compare them with.

This tutorial will give you something to compare against and bring those huge numbers down to Earth. It uses what you are currently looking at, your screen and we will try to scale down the solar system and hopefully make it easier for you to visualize how huge it actually is.


Before we begin our little though experient let's take a look at some more actual numbers, the following is a table containing the equatorial diameter of the Sun and the planets.

Sun1392000 km
Mercury4878 km
Venus12104 km
Earth12756 km
Mars6787 km
Jupiter142800 km
Saturn120000 km
Uranus50800 km
Neptune48600 km

Let's start to scale it down, in the diagram below the Sun and the planets are drawn to their correct relative scale. Mercury, the smallest planet in the Solar system is two pixels wide, so one pixel represents about 2250km (1398mi) in our model of the solar system.

illustration of relative sizes of the sun and planets in the solar system


The next table contains the mean distances of the planets from the Sun in kilometers, pixels and the number of screens you would need to put side by side in order to display the planets in their orbits.