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Solar System

Our Solar System






Introduction: (Initial Observation)

Exploration and learning about stars and planets has a long history, but only in the past few years we have been able to see photographic pictures and colorful details of other planets.
Making a model is an excellent way for learning about Solar System. Many attempt to make a scale model, but since actual planets are very far from each other, pieces of the model also need to be relatively far; so you will not be able to see the entire solar system in one room. That often creates the idea of using the scale only for the diameter of planets, not for distances.

This project guide contains information that you need in order to start your project. If you have any questions or need more support about this project, click on the “Ask Question” button on the top of this page to send me a message.

If you are new in doing science project, click on “How to Start” in the main page. There you will find helpful links that describe different types of science projects, scientific method, variables, hypothesis, graph, abstract and all other general basics that you need to know.

Project advisor

Information Gathering:

Find out about what you want to investigate. Read books, magazines or ask professionals who might know in order to learn about the effect or area of study. Keep track of where you got your information from.

Following are some good references:

Question/ Purpose:

How many planets revolve around the sun? Which planet is the closest and which is the farthest from the sun? What are the smallest and largest planets in our solar system?
We want to make a model that helps us to learn more about the Solar System.

Two additional specific questions that can be the subject of this project are:

What would be your Age on Other Planets?

How much do you weight on other planets?

Identify Variables:

When you think you know what variables may be involved, think about ways to change one at a time. If you change more than one at a time, you will not know what variable is causing your observation. Sometimes variables are linked and work together to cause something. At first, try to choose variables that you think act independently of each other.

Solar system is a display project. In other words you need to make a model that can show the relative size of the planets and the relative distance of planets to the sun.
Display projects do not need defining variables.


Based on your gathered information, make an educated guess about what types of things affect the system you are working with. Identifying variables is necessary before you can make a hypothesis.
Display projects do not need question, hypothesis.

If you want to have a hypothesis, first you must come up with a question. For example you may ask “Which planet moves faster around the sun? Earth or Mars?”
Hypothesis is an educated guess. For example you may say “Mars moves faster than earth.” as your hypothesis.
Later, your observations or investigations may support or oppose your hypothesis.

Experiment Design:

Design an experiment to test each hypothesis.
We want to build a model of our solar system. It is good if we can find information that can help us building a scaled model. A scaled model is a model that all sizes in that are reduced at a certain ratio. First we need to find the actual diameter of sun and its nine planets. then we reduce these sizes at a ratio that matches our plan. We want to make a model of solar system that is about 2 to 3 feet wide. We also want to use plastic balls to make our model. By searching the net and books we found the diameter of sun and it’s planets as well as their distance to the sun. Following table reflects these information.

Real Values
 Body  Body Diameter (km)  Orbit radius (km)
 Sun  1,391,900
Mercury  4,866  57950000
Venus  12,106  108110000
Earth  12,742  149570000
 Mars  6,760  227840000
Jupiter  139,516  778140000
Saturn  116,438  1427000000
Uranus  46,940  2870300000
 Neptune  45,432  4499900000
Pluto  2,274  5913000000

Now we want to use a 5 inch ball to represent the sun. 5 inches is about 12 Centimeters. We need to find out how many times do we need to reduce the size of sun to reach to 12 centimeters. To do that we divide the real diameter of the sun (in centimeters) by 12 centimeters. The diameter of the sun in centimeter is 1,391,900,000,000 and by dividing it by 12 we get 115991666666 and we round it up to 116,000,000,000 or 116 billion times. Now we need to reduce all other diameters and distances with the same ratio. So we simply divide all of them by 116 billion. The result is in the following table.

 116 billion times smaller model
 Body  Body Diameter (in)  Orbit radius (ft)
 Sun  5
Mercury  0.0174  17
Venus  0.0434  32
Earth  0.0457  44
 Mars  0.0242  68
Jupiter  0.5011  232
Saturn  0.4182  427
Uranus  0.1686  859
 Neptune  0.1632  1347
Pluto  0.008  1770

This calculation shows that if the diameter of our sun is only 5 inches, the Pluto orbit must be 1770 feet away from the sun and its size should be as small as a dust particle and will be invisible.

So we decided to make our model with a 5 inch ball to be the sun and for all other bodies we use smaller balls for all other planets.

One way to construct a model is to buy 10 Styrofoam balls in 10 different sizes and let the largest be sun and the smallest be Pluto. Paint the balls, place the sun in the center and connect all planets to the sun using straight wires.

The other way is using the sizes from the above table. You may buy a 5″ ball to be the sun and buy small bids for Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. All others will be the size of a small dot on a wall.

When it comes to presentation, you keep the sun at your desk, Put a small dot somewhere in the wall about 17 feet away from the sun to be the Mercury. Put another small dot about 32 feet away to be the Venus. Two other small dots at 44 feet and 68 feet away will be Earth and Mars.
At 232 feet you put a 0.5″ bide to be the Jupiter and another at 427 feet to be the Saturn.
The last three are also 3 small dots, Uranus at 859 feet, Neptune at 1347 feet and Pluto at 1770 feet away from our 5″ Sun.

Materials and Equipment:

Material commonly used to make a model of Solar System are:

  1. Styrofoam balls
  2. Wires
  3. Paint
  4. Paper and cardboard
  5. Wood glue
  6. Brushes

Results of Experiment (Observation):

Experiments are often done in series. A series of experiments can be done by changing one variable a different amount each time. A series of experiments is made up of separate experimental “runs.” During each run you make a measurement of how much the variable affected the system under study. For each run, a different amount of change in the variable is used. This produces a different amount of response in the system. You measure this response, or record data, in a table for this purpose. This is considered “raw data” since it has not been processed or interpreted yet. When raw data gets processed mathematically, for example, it becomes results.



Summary of Results:

Summarize what happened. This can be in the form of a table of processed numerical data, or graphs. It could also be a written statement of what occurred during experiments.

It is from calculations using recorded data that tables and graphs are made. Studying tables and graphs, we can see trends that tell us how different variables cause our observations. Based on these trends, we can draw conclusions about the system under study. These conclusions help us confirm or deny our original hypothesis. Often, mathematical equations can be made from graphs. These equations allow us to predict how a change will affect the system without the need to do additional experiments. Advanced levels of experimental science rely heavily on graphical and mathematical analysis of data. At this level, science becomes even more interesting and powerful.

Image on the right shows a sample of solar system model that you may make as a part of your project.

Making a model will help you to memorize with planets are larger or smaller than the earth. It will also help you to memorize which planets are closer or further away from the sun.


Using the trends in your experimental data and your experimental observations, try to answer your original questions. Is your hypothesis correct? Now is the time to pull together what happened, and assess the experiments you did.

Related Questions & Answers:

What you have learned may allow you to answer other questions. Many questions are related. Several new questions may have occurred to you while doing experiments. You may now be able to understand or verify things that you discovered when gathering information for the project. Questions lead to more questions, which lead to additional hypothesis that need to be tested.

Possible Errors:

If you did not observe anything different than what happened with your control, the variable you changed may not affect the system you are investigating. If you did not observe a consistent, reproducible trend in your series of experimental runs there may be experimental errors affecting your results. The first thing to check is how you are making your measurements. Is the measurement method questionable or unreliable? Maybe you are reading a scale incorrectly, or maybe the measuring instrument is working erratically.

If you determine that experimental errors are influencing your results, carefully rethink the design of your experiments. Review each step of the procedure to find sources of potential errors. If possible, have a scientist review the procedure with you. Sometimes the designer of an experiment can miss the obvious.


Visit a local library and review some books related to astronomy and solar system.
Also search the Internet with keywords such as “Solar System” and “Size of planets”.


My project sheet is asking me for problem statement, hypothesis, acknowledgments


You have elected a primary project; so, I assume that you are in first grade up to 4th grade. At these ages you must do display projects. Display projects do not require problem statement and hypothesis.

Higher grades, specially 8th graders do experimental projects that require problem and hypothesis.

If you really need to do this project and need to have a hypothesis, this is my recommendation:

Start with a question or problem statement like this:

Which planets are closer to the sun?

Why do we need to know that?

In future, people from the earth may need to travel to other planets. Obviously planets that are closer to the sun are hotter and the planets that are further away from the sun are colder. By knowing the distances of planets to the sun, we can decide which planet is best for us to move in. (Sounds like science fiction!)

Write a hypothesis. In your hypothesis write which planet do you think is the next closest planet to the sun after the earth. Offer a hypothesis like this:

I think Mars is the next closest planet to the sun. (Note that the hypothesis does not have to be correct).

With the help of this project guide, some books and your parents find out which planets are closer to the sun. Then report your results in a table like this:

Planets in solar system in the order of closeness to the sun Colors in a Solar System model
Mercury Orange/Red
Venus Grey/Blue
Earth Blue and Green
Mars Red
Jupiter Red and Orange
Saturn with ring Mint Green and Peach
Uranus Rust and Green
Neptune Rust and Green
Pluto Purple