Scale of the Solar System and Universe

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay


These numbers are so large as to be meaningless, so let's build some scale models: 

Earth is 1 cm. in diameter 

Earth is a grain of sand 1/100 cm in diameter 

The Sun is a grain of sand 1/100 cm in diameter 

The Sun and Moon span angles of 1/2 degree in the sky - much smaller than a dime held at arm's length. The Sun is a typical star. The nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is much like the Sun. It would appear the size of a sand grain seen two miles away (an angle of 1/100 sec of arc). Chances are, you can see a star whose light started on its way here when you were born, if its distance in light years equals your age. 

D-LYProper Name  Catalog Name V mag
4.4Rigel Kentalpha Centauri -0.01
8.6Siriusalpha Canis Majoris-1.44
11.4Procyonalpha Canis Minoris 0.4
16.8Altairalpha Aquilae 0.76
19.4 eta Cassiopeae3.46
24.4 beta Hydri2.82
25.1Fomalhautalpha Piscis Austrinus 1.17
25.3Vegaalpha Lyrae0.03
33.7Polluxbeta Geminorum 1.16
35.2 zeta Herculis2.81
36.2Denebolabeta Leonis2.14
36.7Arcturusalpha Bootis -0.05
37.0 eta Bootis2.68
38.5 delta Capricornis2.85
38.6 gamma Virginis2.74
40.1 beta Trianguli Australis2.83
42.2Capellaalpha Aurigae0.08
46.7Rasalhaguealpha Ophiuchi2.08
48.8Alderaminalpha Cephei2.45
51.5Castoralpha Geminorum1.58
54.4Caphbeta Cassiopeae 2.28
57.7 delta Leonis2.56
58.6 iota Centauri2.75
59.6 beta Arietis2.64
60.9 theta Centauri2.06
62.7 rho Puppis2.83
65.1Aldebaranalpha Tauri0.87
65.4 epsilon Scorpii2.29
65.9Hamalalpha Arietis 2.01
71.3 alpha Hydri2.86
72.0 epsilon Cygni2.48
73.2Unukalhaialpha Serpentis 2.63
74.7Alphekkaalpha Coronae Borealis 2.22
77.2 alpha1 Librae2.75
77.3 lambda Sagitarii2.82
77.4Ankaaalpha Phenicis2.4
77.5Regulusalpha Leonis1.36
78.1Mizarzeta Ursae Majoris2.23
79.4Merakbeta Ursae Majoris 2.34
79.7 delta Velorum1.93
80.9Aliothepsilon Ursae Majoris1.76
82.0 beta Ophiuchi2.76
82.1 beta Aurigae1.9
83.6Phadgamma Ursae Majoris 2.41
84.1 eta Ophiuchi2.43
87.7 eta Draconis2.73
87.9 gamma Crucis1.59
88.8 beta Eridani2.78
89.0 zeta Sagitarii2.6
92.8Algolbeta Persei2.09
95.8Diphdabeta Ceti 2.04
97.0Alpheratzdelta Pegasi 2.07
99.4 delta Cassiopeae2.66
100.6Alkaideta Ursae Majoris 1.85

Most of the stars in Orion are 500-600 L.Y. away. 


1 SECOND=1 YEAR 1983 1980 Bicentennial Watergate 1970 Landing on moon Six-day War Watts Riots JFK Shot 1960 First Satellites Korean War 1950 World War II 1940 Depression 1930 1920 World War I 1910 First Airplane 1900 1890 1880 Custer's Last Stand 1870 Civil War 1860 1850 California Gold Rush 1840 Yr.=31.4 million sec. 

GEOLOGIC TIME = 1 YEAR Birth of Christ - 11:59:46 on Dec. 31 pm Christmas Thanksgiving Nov. Oct. Sept. Aug. Jul. June May Apr. Mar. Feb. Jan. 1 sec = 143 years 1 day = 12,300 yr. 

GEOLOGIC COLUMN NOW -100 M.Y. First Birds -200 First Mammals -300 First Reptiles First Amphibians -400 First Fish -500 -600 Start of the Cambrian First good fossils -1000 Keeweenaw Volcanic Rocks -2000 -3000 Earliest Life Oldest Known Rocks -4000 4500 Earth Formed 

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Created 27 Dec 1996, Last Update 14 December 2009

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