The Solar System

Nathaniel Said:

How to build a Solar System model?

We Answered:

you can make one on your computer by getting an application free here:…

or do this for a real one:


(All of these materials can be found at a local craft store)

1 big styrofoam ball for the sun (about 8 inches in diameter).
9 smaller styrofoam balls of different sizes to match the planets.
10 wooden dowels (read the instructions below to determine what size).
1 box (about 3 x 3 x 3 feet).
black thread.
clay (a small amount).
paint (black for the dowels and box; yellow for the sun & stars; other colors for the planets).
construction paper (red, white, or yellow for rings around planets).
1 cork.

1. First, find a good box. It should be big enough inside to hold 9 planets revolving around the sun.

2. Tape the box shut on three sides, leaving one side open. Remove the flaps of the box from the side that is open.

3. Use black paint or construction paper to cover the inside of the box. This will be the universe. Paint small yellow or white stars as a background for your universe.

4. Get styrofoam balls for the sun and planets. Make sure the sizes are proportional to the real solar system, but on a much smaller scale. Paint the styrofoam sun yellow. Paint the planets whatever color you want, but try to remember the color of real planets (blue for Earth, red for Mars, etc.).

5. Paint all of the dowels black, this way they will blend in with the background of the universe box.

6. Cut 2 dowels, a short one and a long one, and poke them into the cork. Use a nail to make the holes if the cork is too tough. Glue the dowels so they stay in better. It should look like this:

7. Make sure the total length is long enough to fit snugly inside the box and leave about 2 inches on the top dowel so it sticks through the box. By having this stick through the top, you can turn the dowel and make your planets rotate around the sun.

8. Now, slide the sun up through the bottom, longer end of the dowel.

9. Poke a hole through the top of the box. From the inside of the box, slide the top end of the dowel through the hole. Secure the bottom of the dowel with clay. Glue the clay to the box if it moves around too much. So far, it should look like this:

10. Now you’re ready to insert the planets. Cut the remaining 9 dowels at different lengths. These will be the distance from the sun. If you make the lengths equal, all the planets will crash into each other.

11. Insert all 9 dowels into the cork, so they form a “pinwheel.” Glue the dowels for a stronger hold. Here’s what it would look like from the top:

12. Take the thread and tie it on the end of these “pinwheel” dowels. Tie the other end of the thread to a pin. Poke the pin into the styrofoam planets. Make sure to place the planets in the correct order based on distance from the sun. It should now look something like the picture below. (Note: In these pictures the dowels are white so you can see them, but your dowels are supposed to be painted black).

13. Cut construction paper to make rings around the planets that need them. Secure the rings to the planets with pins or glue.

14. By twisting the dowel that is sticking out through the top of the box, you can bring your solar system to life.

to help you scale your project I’v attached a link:…

Leona Said:

Does our knowledge of the solar system give us a better chance of surviving such a catastrophe? How?

We Answered:

Focussing on your catastrophe part of the question… I came up with this from the NASA site…it’s really talking about why they are going back to the Moon and then Mars…

“Returning to the most important reason for a new lunar program, dispersal of the human species, the most promising site for such dispersal is obviously Mars, now known to have an atmosphere and water. Mars itself is obviously a fascinating object for exploration. But it may even now be marginally habitable for astronaut visits, and in the very long view, might be “terraformed,” or engineered to have a more Earth-like atmosphere and climate. This was described in Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy, Red Mars and its successors Green and Blue Mars. A second Earth, so to speak, would greatly improve our chances of surviving cosmic catastrophes. ”
It was written 14 Jan 2008

Charlene Said:

What properties of the solar system are indicative of the planets forming a rotating disk?

We Answered:

Accretion disc planetary formation scenario = Generally speaking; the planets rotate around their central star in the same plane of the elliptic, they have nearly circular orbits, their orbital paths are in the same direction around the central star, their orbits do not intersect.

Each point can be elaborated on as to why this feature is indicative of the rotating disc model for Solar System creation.