Stream and Download
Observe a team as they build a model of the solar system on a dry lakebed in Nevada in this video from Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh. Most images of the solar system are not to scale—they cannot show both the sizes of the planets and the distances between them on the same scale. This team creates an accurate large-scale model of solar system in a desert space that is 7 miles in diameter. They use illuminated objects to represent the Sun and planets and drive the orbits in cars to create a time-lapse model during the night. In the morning, they stand at Earth’s orbit to see the real Sun rise next to the model and confirm that the proportions of the model are correct. Both the full-length version and a shortened version of the video are available in this media gallery.
To view the Background Essay, Teaching Tips, and Student Handout for this video, go to Support Materials below. This resource was developed through WGBH’s Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms project, in collaboration with NASA. Click here for the full collection of resources.