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Emily LakdawallaMay 2, 2011

The scale of our solar system

Space.com has taken advantage of the infinitely scrollable nature of Web pages to produce a really cool infographic on the scales of orbital distances in the solar system. The only thing I'd add to it is Sedna, whose current position at about 90 AU would reside on the diagram, near Voyager 2's current distance from the Sun. But oddball Sedna has a bizarre orbit that takes it 960 astronomical units away at aphelion; the diagram would have to be 8.5 times longer than it is to encompass Sedna's entire orbit. Even plotting it at its semimajor axis of 520 AU (which is how I think they've handled the distances of other Kuiper belt objects, most of which have noticeably elliptical orbits) would require making the diagram 4.6 times taller than it already is!

This also seems like a good place to share Bruce "@RandomSpaceFact" Betts' favorite scale model of the solar system: If the Sun were at the top of your head and Pluto at your feet, then all the inner planets would be in your head. Jupiter would be at your chin, Saturn at mid-chest, Neptune just below your knee. And Uranus? It'd be right where you'd expect it to be. Really.

Our solar system to scale from the sun to the most recently discovered dwarf planet Eris in astronomical units.
Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Read more: New Horizons, Mercury, NASA Mars missions before 1996, the Sun, Voyager 1 and 2, Dawn, Pioneer 10 and 11, stars and galaxies, Saturn, asteroid 1 Ceres, Hubble Space Telescope, Pluto, comets, Charon, Eris, asteroids, Venus, Neptune, Earth, the Moon, Mars, Uranus, Jupiter

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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