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The Peppercorn Model of the Solar System

 

The Peppercorn Model, also known as the Thousand Yard Model, is a scale model of the solar system which shows the relative sizes of the planets and the distances between them at the same time using the same linear scale.

At this scale the Sun is about the size of a soccer ball, the Earth is about the size of a peppercorn, and Pluto is a grain of salt about 1000 yards from the Sun.

As you walk among the planets you will not just see but also feel the vast emptiness of space even in our own solar system.

Solar System
Object
Model Object
and Diameter
Distance (in AU) Added
Distance
Total
Distance
Object inches mm AU yards meters yards meters
Sun a soccer ball 8.7'' 22 cm 0.00     0 yd 0 m
Mercury a pin head 0.030'' 0.8 mm 0.39 +10 yd +9 m 10 yd 9 m
Venus a peppercorn 0.075'' 1.9 mm 0.72 +9 yd +8 m 19 yd 17 m
Earth a peppercorn 0.079'' 2.0 mm 1.00 +7 yd +7 m 26 yd 24 m
Mars a pin head 0.042'' 1.1 mm 1.52 +14 yd +12 m 39 yd 36 m
*Ceres a grain of salt 0.006'' 0.15 mm 2.77 +32 yd +29 m 72 yd 65 m
Jupiter a walnut,
or chestnut
0.89'' 23 mm 5.20 +63 yd +57 m 134 yd 123 m
Saturn an acorn
or hazelnut
0.75'' 19 mm 9.58 +113 yd +103 m 247 yd 226 m
Uranus a coffee bean 0.318'' 8 mm 19.20 +249 yd +228 m 497 yd 454 m
Neptune a coffee bean 0.308'' 8 mm 30.10 +281 yd +257 m 777 yd 711 m
*Pluto a grain of salt 0.014'' 0.36 mm 34.60 +116 yd +106 m 893 yd 817 m
*Haumea a grain of salt 0.008'' 0.20 mm 50.50 +410 yd +375 m 1303 yd 1191 m
*Makemake a grain of salt 0.009'' 0.23 mm 52.50 +53 yd +49 m 1356 yd 1240 m
*Sedna a grain of salt 0.012'' 0.31 mm 84.00 +812 yd +743 m 2169 yd 1983 m
*Gonggong a grain of salt 0.015'' 0.39 mm 88.00 +103 yd +94 m 2272 yd 2078 m
*Eris a grain of salt 0.014'' 0.37 mm 96.10 +209 yd +191 m 2481 yd 2269 m
*dwarf planets
 
Model Object
 
Diameter
 
Distance (in AU)
semi-major axis
Added
Distance
Total
Distance

Scale: 1 inch = 100,000 miles   --   On this scale the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, would be about 4,000 miles away!

1 AU = 1 Astronomical Unit = average (mean) distance between the Earth and the Sun
1 AU = 1.4960 × 1011 meters =  9.2956 × 107 miles

  The orbits of the planets are elipses, not circles, so the size reported here is the semi-major axis, except for Pluto. The distance reported for Pluto is the actual distance from the Sun in August 2022, and will be updated from time to time.

Sites

References

  1. The Thousand-Yard Model or, the Earth as a Peppercorn by Guy Ottewell
  2. The Thousand-Yard Model or, The Earth as a Peppercorn from NOIRLab - the National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (previously hosted by NOAO - the National Optical Astronomy Observaotry).
  3. The Peppercorn Model of the Solar System a presentation by Eric Myers for the joint meeting of the New York, New Jersey, and New England sections of the American Association of Physics Teachers, held at Marist College on Sept. 28th 2013.

Other Resources

  1. Sagan Planet Walk in downtown Ithaca, New York
  2. Voyage Model Solar System on the Capital Mall in Washington, D.C.
  3. Other solar system models (from Wikipedia)
  4. SOLAR SYSTEM Passport to the Planets - A Scale Model of the Solar System - Student activiy for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students
  5. Scales of the Universe - relative sizes of all things large and small
  6. If the Moon were only one Pixel - a tediously accurate scale model of the solar system
  7. To Scale: The Solar System - On a dry lakebed in Nevada, a group of friends build the first scale model of the solar system with complete planetary orbits

  8. Lightspeed Model of the Solar System - an alternative model of the solar system where the planets are arranged by the time it takes light from the Sun to reach them.

Last updated: 15 August 2022


Last modified: Monday August 15, 2022 Copyright © 2022 by Spy Hill Research http://peppercorn.spy-hill.net /index.php