Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Planets

Paper maché over styrofoam craft balls. (Except in the case of earth's moon and Mercury, which are paper maché on dried peas.)

Fiona is on a bit of an astronomy kick. She really enjoys stargazing, though we don't do nearly enough of it. Which really is inexcusable, since we live in the midst of such deep dark skies, hundreds of miles from the nearest city's light scatter. This summer we will make more of an effort. She loves her bed stars. She likes the Basher Astronomy book we got for her last spring as a consolation for not being able to find the Biology one. And she is looking forward to the space exploration unit in the BC Science 6 curriculum she's recently begun following. (She begged. Sophie and Noah are doing high school science courses and she wanted something just like what they were doing. I was skeptical, but she went on-line and tried some of the self-evaluation quizzes for Science 6 and scored between 60 and 80 percent without studying the material. So we ordered the program through the school. She loves it. Workbook must be this girl's middle name.)

The planets are drying over the wood stove tonight. Tomorrow they'll take on their distinctive colours courtesy of some acrylic paint. Eventually they'll get hung from the ceiling of her bedroom. First I'd like them to participate in a planet walk. We did one a few years ago but Fiona was only a wee thing. This time it'll be for her. This time the scale is bigger, so I imagine we will only be walking as far as Mars or so.

With Earth being 4 cm in size, our size and distance scale would be thus:

The sun will be imagined as a large sphere 4 metres in diameter. We'll place our imaginary sun on the highway at the top of the driveway. Be careful if you're planning on dropping by for a visit!
Mercury, which is slightly larger than a pea, will be placed 200 metres up the highway.
Venus will be 180 metres beyond Mercury.
Earth will be 140 metres further out. Its moon will be placed about 60 cm away.
Mars will be 280 metres further along.
Jupiter, should we choose to go there (perhaps we will drive?) will be situated almost 2 km away from Mars.
Saturn, Neptune and Uranus will be 2, 5 and 5.5 kms respectively beyond their nearer neighbours.

And perhaps we will listen to Holst as we travel along.


  1. Anonymous7:04 am

    Sounds fun! We are a little jealous of your dark skies. My astronomy nut enjoyed the first two episodes of the documentary 'The Story of Science'. The first was called 'How Did We Get Here?' and the next, 'What Is Out There?'.



  2. Anonymous9:16 pm

    where do you get styrofoam balls?

  3. Anonymous9:17 pm

    where do you get styrofoam balls?

  4. We got the balls in the craft section of Walmart. I would think any big-box craft store / department store would carry them.


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