Science Books Lie about the Solar System

By on March 10, 2014

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.

Zainab Khawaja

F. Scott fan. Dreamer, planner, believer