Not to Scale: Illustration of the Solar System

Practically every illustration showing the Sun, Earth, and Moon is drawn not to scale. The reason is that the sizes of celestial bodies are far too small compared to the distances between them.

Flat-Earthers sometimes use this fact to point out the alleged “failure of modern science” to describe celestial bodies, or even “a mean to deceive us all.” However, the real reason is just that it is practically impossible to create a model of the solar system in the actual scale, using static images, that still effectively describes the objects it is trying to explain.

If we want to draw the Sun-Earth-Moon system on a piece of A4 paper, using a real scale, then these are the scaled down sizes and distances:

  • Distance of Earth-Sun: 25 cm
  • Distance of Earth-Moon: 0.6 mm
  • Diameter of the Sun: 2.3 mm
  • Diameter of the Earth: 0.02 mm
  • Diameter of the Moon: 0.006 mm

If we were to draw those objects using the correct scale on an A4 paper, then the size of Earth and the Moon is smaller than the full-stop/period character we use to end a sentence. If the intention is to describe the Sun-Earth-Moon system, then doing it using real scale will never get us to achieve the objective.

But it is not impossible to see them on the real scale using an interactive application. Some sky simulation app like Stellarium can show us the ‘birds-eye view’ of the solar system, and we can observe Solar System objects using the actual scale.

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