A Scale Model of our Solar System

The solar system is a really big and empty place. It's so big and empty that it's difficult to create a scale model where both the sizes of the planets and their orbits are correct. For example, if we scale Mercury down to about as small as we can go, let's say 1 mm in diameter, then the Sun at the same scale would be about 30 cm across. The surprising thing is that at this scale, the distance to the Kuiper Belt at the edge of our solar system would be more than 300 km!

This webpage provides a tool for visualizing the solar system at various scales. You pick a size for the Sun, and all the planets and their orbital distances are scaled according to this value. The orbits are then overlaid on a map that is centred wherever you like (maybe your school or your house or a landmark in your city). We start you off with a map of Winnipeg (because that's where this website is based!), but you can change this to any location by entering the coordinates or by zooming out and panning around.

Note that the view of the orbits displayed on this site are shown as circles at the average distance of that planet from the sun. In reality, the orbits aren't quite circular (they are somewhat elliptical) and some of the orbits cross each other (for example, the orbit of the Kuiper Belt crosses the orbit of Neptune). This diagram is just meant to illustrate the relative scale.

The idea for this website and some of the code is based on the very good "Build a Solar System" website by the Exploratorium.

First, centre the map on your desired location. To do this, enter the coordinates in the box below and click "Centre Map". Or use the map controls on the left hand side to pan to the desired location and then click "Update Coordinates". Double clicking anywhere on the map will also centre the map at that location.
Next, choose a scale for the solar system by entering a value for the size of the sun (in mm) and then click "Calculate". Click on the "Draw Orbits" button to show the orbits of the planets on the map at your chosen scale. The orbits are drawn centred on the current map location. If you wish to change your current map location, recentre the map and click the "Draw Orbits" button again to redraw the orbits.
Planet Diameter (mm) Average Orbital Radius (km) Orbit Colour
Kuiper Belt
Oort Cloud