Model of Solar System Shows Earth as Blue Marble

Remember making a model of the solar system in science class? Filmmakers Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh give this grade school science project a serious upgrade with their scale model of the solar system that spans 7 miles of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Overstreet and a group of friends documented their work in a captivating time-lapse video titled To Scale: The Solar System,” which traces out the planets’ orbits.

The Solar System to Scale

“Every single picture of the solar system is not to scale. If you put the orbits to scale on a piece of paper, the planets become microscopic, and you won’t be able to see them,” said Overstreet.

In this scale model of the solar system, earth is represented by a blue marble, and the sun is made from a weather balloon that is a little bigger than the size of a pilates ball. They calculated that to build a solar system around its center, the sun required even miles of space. Mercury, the closest planet, is 224 feet from the center, while Neptune, the farthest planet, is 3.5 miles away. In reality, Mercury is 35 million miles from the sun, and Neptune is 2.8 billion miles out. Sadly, Pluto – the little guy we grew up believing was a planet – was left out.

A New Experience of Our Solar System

From the top of a nearby mountain, the filmmakers shot time-lapse images of the cars driving around the orbits. They lifted the model sun just as the real sun was rising over the desert. The footage is absolutely stunning and reinforces the awesomeness of space. It took the team 36 hours to set up and film the project.

“The only way to see a scale model of the solar system is to build one,” Overstreet states in the video. The filmmakers claim this is the first accurately scaled model of the solar system ever made.

The project reveals just how vast our solar system really is. “That’s what I really wanted to try and capture. We are on a marble floating in the middle of nothing. When you sort of come face to face with that, it’s staggering,” said Overstreet.