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The Solar System in Your Neighbourhood

  • Planétarium
What if the Sun were the size of a basketball?
Photo: Espace pour la vie (Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan)
Solar system

Tabs group


Description of the activity

This activity is both a hands-on exercise and a guided excursion. It gives students a strong mental image of the dimensions of the solar system and its contents. What stands out is the sheer size of the space that the solar system takes up. This vast space enables you to depict both the size of the planets and their distances from the Sun. You can adapt this excursion to all grades by modifying the information you present.


Students learn to:

  • Make a scale model that emphasizes the diameters of the planets in the solar system as well as their distances from the Sun.
  • Measure diameters and distances to scale.

Equipment needed by the student

Activity sheet.


Make enough copies of the activity sheet for everyone.


Adapted from: The Thousand Yard Model, par Guy Ottewell. Copyright © 1989 par Guy Ottewell, Astronomical Workshop, Furman University, Greenville, SC 29613.

Category of activity

  • Enrichment activity

Sub-category of activity

  • Class activity

Grade level

  • Preschool
  • Elementary cycle one
  • Elementary cycle two
  • Elementary cycle three
  • Secondary cycle one
  • Secondary cycle two

Number of students per group

Three to four


Two 50-minute periods

Activity Sheets

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