Science Books Lie about the Solar System

Classic illustrations in Science books of the solar system are not according to scale and are only merely for illustration purposes. The distances between the planets are so exceedingly vast that there could not possibly be a scale model in text books.

If sun is the size of a tennis ball, a true to scale model of our solar system would be half a mile wide. (Tweet this)

The only scale model of the solar system is presented is created with the aid of Ron Hipschman’s scale model, where the size of the sun is entered as 65 mm (almost 650 pixel in diameter) and all the other sizes of the planets and their distances from the sun are measured accordingly, where the solar system is half a mile wide on this webpage.

The planet sizes are rounded to the nearest pixel and an image was created to a diameter of that size. CSS margins are then used to pad out the spacing between the planets. The website is hence over 2.7 million pixels in height. The conversion rate used means that each pixel equates to over 2100km in real terms. In our textbooks, the model of the galaxy is only for the purpose of illustrations without paying attention to accurate scaling as utilized by Ron Hipschman.

Drawn to Scale - © Andrew Corden
Drawn to Scale – © Andrew Corden

Textbook illustrations of our galaxy are highly misleading as it does not consider the large distances between the planets and their large distances from the sun. Utilizing Ron Hipschman’s scale, the galaxy occupies half a mile on the website which brings the inaccuracies into a perspective. Such a large scale could not possibly be illustrated in textbooks due to the exceptionally vast space between the planets.

10 Quick Facts about Our Earth and the Solar System That Will Make You Wonder

1. Russia is bigger than Pluto

That’s right, the surface area of Russia, 17 million sq. km, is greater than that of Pluto, 16.6 million sq. km. (Tweet this fact!)

Pluto vs Russia
Image credits: omg-facts.com

2. The True Size of Africa

Africa is much bigger than what it looks like on most maps of the world. To put it into perspective, we can fit all of the following 18 countries into Africa and still have room for more:

USA, China, India, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Nepal, Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea.

The combined area of these counties is 30.1 million sq. km which is still slightly less than that of Africa. [See map]

3. Okay, Oklahoma

There’s a town called Okay, OK. It has a population of about 650. (Tweet this fact!)

okay-ok

4. Only 2 percent of the Australian population lives in the yellow area

The total area of Australia is almost equal to that of United States minus Alaska, however, its (Australia’s) population is just 23 million which is less than the population of Texas alone.

australia_population

5. Since its discovery, Pluto never made a full orbit around the Sun

pluto_orbit

Pluto takes 248 years to complete its orbit around the sun that our earth completes is just one year.

6. The Diomede Islands are 2.4 miles and One Day apart

Diomede Islands, Bering Sea

The Diomede Islands, just 2.4 miles apart are separated by International Date Line. They are also named “Tomorrow Island” and “Yesterday Island”. Big Diomede belongs to Russia and has a population of zero while the Little one belongs to United States with a population of about 200. Since the big Diomede belongs to Russia, it’s 23 hours ahead of the little Diomede.

date_line

You are seeing the map right! Russia and Alaska are indeed this close apart. This is the part where we cut the world map to present it in a planer form instead of a globe.

7. You can actually fly on Saturn’s moon Titan

The gravity is low enough and the atmosphere thick enough on Titan, that by attaching small wings to your arms, you could fly like a bird. The gravitational pull there is seven times less and the escape velocity is four times less than that of the earth.

human_wings

8. If an alien located 60-65 million light years away from us, looked at earth through a really powerful telescope today, he would see Dinosaurs!

dinosaurs

This makes sense since we, at earth, are only able to see the objects in the outer space who’s light has reached us. The Dinosaurs lived on this planet about 60-65 million years ago and their light/visibility has only reached the location 60-65 million light years (or 382,102 trillion miles) away yet. [via quora]

9. The World’s population can fit comfortably in Texas

The world with a population of 7 billion can fit easily in Texas –Tweet this– (water included in area) with each person having a 1000 sq. foot property of his own. Of course, there’ll be no space for roads, parks and other infrastructure whatsoever. [image courtesy: aliveandyoung]

texas_world

10. A day (sunrise to sunrise) on Mercury is 176 Earth days

Unlike earth, the planet Mercury rotates very slow about its own axis taking almost 59 of our days to complete one rotation. That’s one day by Mercury’s definition, however, one solar day (sunrise to sunrise) on Mercury, which depends on both its rotation and orbital motion around the sun, is 176 Earth days.

mercury_sun

Mercury completes its orbit around the sun in approx 88 days so it’s daytime for one Mercurian year, and night-time for another Mercurian year. To complicated to understand? Watch the simple animation. You’ll notice that the Mercury completes its orbit around the sun during the time from its sunrise to sunset. And while the sun rises back from the sunset, it complete yet another orbit around the sun. So from sunrise to the next sunrise, Mercury orbits around the sun twice i.e. 176 days.