Size of the Solar System Lab - Astronomy 101 Essay

2274 Words Feb 14th, 2013 10 Pages
The Size of the Solar System
Overview
• Become familiar with the scale of the planets vs. their distances. • Get an overview of the solar system.
Introduction
It is easy to flip to the index of an astronomy textbook to discover that, say, the Sun lies 150 million kilometers away from Earth. It is far more difficult (if not impossible), however, to picture this distance in the human mind. In this exercise, we will learn to access the often unpalatable distances encountered in astronomy by simply scaling the huge distances to more recognizable, pedestrian numbers. So long as every distance within the system of interest is scaled by the same factor, we retain the meaningful information about relative distances between objects.
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Scaled radius of the Sun: 6.96 x 105 Km * (1 cm/6.96 x 104 Km) = 10 cm
Scaled radius of Mercury: 2.44 x 103 Km * (1 cm/6.96 x 104 Km) = 0.04 cm
Scaled Distance Mercury-Sun: 5.83 x 107 Km * (1 meter/2.87 x 108 Km) = 0.20 m
Scaled radius of Venus: 6.05 x 103 Km * (1 cm/6.96 x 104 Km) = 0.09 cm
Scaled Distance Venus-Sun: 1.08 x 108 Km * (1 meter/2.87 x 108 Km) = 0.38 m
Scaled Distance Venus-Mercury: (1.08 x 108 Km- 5.83 x 107 Km )* (1 meter/2.87 x 108 Km) = 0.17 m
|Table 2: Scaled distances |
|Object |Radius (cm) |Distance from Sun (m) |Distance from Previous (m) |
|Sun |10.00 | 0.0 |0.0 |
|Mercury |0.04 |0.20 |0.20 |
|Venus |0.09 |0.38 |0.17 |
|Earth |0.09 |0.52 |0.15 |
|Mars |.05 |.79 |.27 |
|Jupiter |1.03 |2.71 |1.92 |
|Saturn |.87 |4.98

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