Not to Scale: Depictions of the Solar System

Practically every depiction of the Sun, Earth and Moon is drawn not to scale. Flat-Earthers sometimes use this fact to point out the alleged “failure of modern science” to describe motion of celestial bodies, or something like that.

But in fact, the reason is simply that it is practically impossible to create a model of the solar system with real scale, using static images, that is 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 real scale, then these are the projected 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 draw those objects using the correct scale on 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 achieve the objective.

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