

Solar System on a Map
Activity Part 3
12. Acquire or photocopy maps (with scales) showing your geographic location and up to 40 miles away.
13. Ask the children to estimate how much space would be needed to position the planets properly at the scale used in Part 1. How far would Earth be from our Sun? Pluto?
Estimating is a way to engage the children. Reassure them that this estimate is just guessing and that you are not expecting anyone to know the answer. You may need to remind the children that scale involves showing size and distance relationships accurately. In this activity, they will map the distances of the planets from the Sun if they were the size of the paper cutouts in Part 1.
14. Explain that the planets in Part 1 are 100 million times smaller than the actual planets  it would take 100 million of the Part 1 "Earths" placed sidebyside, for example, to equal the actual diameter of Earth.
15. Provide children with distances listed in the Distances From Our Sun chart.
16. Have children locate themselves on the map and place a yellow dot at that location — this is our Sun.
17. Invite them to use the map scale to mark how far away each planet needs to be placed to represent its correct orbit. Use a protractor (or string) to draw circular paths for each planet, using your location as the center (i.e., the Sun).
Table 3. Mapping Distances from Our Sun
Planet 
Planet Diameters
(reduced by a factor of 100 million) 
Average Distance
from the Sun
(kilometers)

Scaled Distance from Sun
(reduced by a factor of 100 million) 
Mercury 
5 cm 
57,909,000 
580 m (0.4 miles) 
Venus 
12 cm

108,200,000 
1,080 m (0.7 miles) 
Earth 
13 cm 
149,600,000 
1,500 m (0.9 miles) 
Mars 
7 cm 
227,940,000 
2,280 m (1.4 miles) 
Jupiter 
143 cm 
778,400,000 
7,780 m (4.8 miles) 
Saturn 
120 cm 
1,423,600,000 
14,240 m (8.8 miles) 
Uranus 
51 cm 
2,867,000,000 
28,670 m (17.6 miles) 
Neptune 
49 cm 
4,488,400,000 
44,880 m (27.6 miles) 
Pluto 
2 cm 
5,909,600,000 
59,100 m (36.4 miles) 
Back to top
Last updated
April 20, 2005
