Sunday, January 15, 2023

THE SCALED SOLAR SYSTEM

Million kilometres, astronomical units, light years. Distances in astronomy are sometimes so large that the human mind cannot fully comprehend them. To make them more familiar, we are narrowing the solar system and its surroundings so that we can turn these huge distances into values that we can more easily understand.  

For example, imagine the Sun as a sphere of ten centimeters in diameter. In our vision of the Solar System in scale 1: 14,000,000,000, the Earth would be a tiny piece of bread 1 mm in diameter located 10 meters from the Sun. The Moon, even smaller than the Earth, would instead be 2.5 cm from our planet.

Jupiter, the giant of the Solar System, would instead be a sphere with a diameter of only 1 cm 50 meters from the Sun, while Neptune, the outermost planet would be 300 meters from our star.

But let's get away from the Solar System and go to the stars in the solar environment. Proxima Centauri, which is the closest star ever to the Sun at 4.2 light-years, would be in our model at 2650 km from it. Sirius, the brightest star in the entire sky, which is 8.6 light-years away, is 5400 km away.

To put it on a geographic plane, imagine that our model of the Solar System is situated in the Canary Islands: Proxima Centauri would then be. 

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