Google any image of the solar system and you’ll find a photo of the planets bunched together around the sun.
But in reality, the solar system is extremely vast.
To get an idea of just how far that is, it would take about 4 hours to reach the furthest planet from the sun at the speed of light.
In the words of James Irwin, an astronaut on Apollo 15:
As we got farther and farther away, the Earth diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine … seeing this has to change a man.
Scroll down to see how they did it.
'The only way to see a scale model of the solar system,' Overstreet said, 'is to build one.' First they had to determine how much space they needed. It ended up being 7 miles of empty space, just to lay out the 8 planets of our solar system. That's a lot of empty space, so Overstreet, Gorosh, and a few friends headed out to Black Rock Desert.
They got to work quickly. They had only 36 hours to set up the planets and measure out the orbits. At the scale they are using, the sun measures about a meter and a half across. In reality, the sun's diameter is 1 million kilometers.
The closest planet to the sun is Mercury. Mercury is 57.9 million kilometers away from the sun. To scale, that's just a short 68 meters away.
Next up is Venus. To scale, Venus is about the size of a marble. Overstreet and Gorosh mounted lit models of the planets on poles so they could be seen in the dark.
Venus' orbit is about 108.2 million kilometers away from the sun. At this point, Overstreet and Gorosh had already reached the point where they had to drive (not walk) from the sun to Venus, at 120 meters away.
The third rock from the sun is the pale blue dot -- Earth. To scale, it's a marble no larger than Overstreet's fingernail. 'I have the world in my pocket somewhere,' Overstreet says as he fishes the planet out.
In reality, our home planet is about 149.6 million kilometers from the sun. That translates to 176 meters.
Next up -- Mars. The red planet's diameter is about half that of Earth's. The scale model is a lot smaller, too.
By the time we hit Jupiter, the solar system stretches to about 778.5 million kilometers, or in terms of this model's scale, just under a kilometer. This is where the space between planets gets really big.
Saturn's model also has rings. To really show the planets and their orbits during the time-lapse photography, the team will drive cars around the orbits.
By Saturn's orbit, which in reality is 1.43 billion kilometers from the sun, we've hit 1.7 kilometers of distance in the desert model. At this point, the sun is just a tiny dot a mile or so away from the replica planet.
By Uranus, the scale solar system stretches to 3.4 kilometers from the sun. That far dot is the sun.
Neptune, the solar system's most far flung planet, orbits the sun from about 4.498 billion kilometers away. At this scale, the model is more than 11 kilometers wide. Their journey ended with these magical night-time time lapses of the glowing planets.
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