Our solar system drawn to scale on an overhead projector scroll.

The model is drawn with the distances between objects to scale (not the sizes of objects). 


Teachable Topics:

  • dwarf planets

  • length scales in space
  • the asteroid belt

  • Kuiper belt and Kuiper belt objects

  • Oort Cloud


Although some of the objects drawn on the overhead appear to be quite close together, the actual distances between each object in the solar system are huge. In fact, the distance from the Sun to our planet Earth is 149 597 870 691m! This distance is equal to 1 astronomical unit, or 1AU. The overhead scroll in this demonstration is about 14.6m long, so in this Solar System model 0.32m represents 1 astronomical unit.

Our Solar System currently is composed of: the Sun, 8 planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus), and 5 dwarf planets (Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake and Eris). In addition to these objects are the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, the Kuiper outside the orbit of Neptune, and the Oort Cloud beyond the orbit of Eris. Most of these objects are represented on the overhead model. 


  • Solar System overhead scroll

  • scroll mount (optional if you have a scrolling overhead already)

  • overhead screen


1. Place the overhead scroll onto the mount and ensure that the scroll is at the proper place - the model starts with an introduction so start the scroll there.

2. Turn off the lights and turn on the projector. Scroll through the Solar System, noting where the various Solar System objects are in relation to the Sun. Remember that for every 0.32m you are scrolling through 149 597 870 691m of space!

3. Once you have scrolled through the model, turn off the projector and scroll the model back to the introduction.

4. The scroll can also be dismounted from the base to unroll the whole length. Be sure to have a long space available for this! The roll is approximately 45' long.