Welcome to You Ask Andy

Don Trantow, age 14, of Seattle,WA  for his question:

How big is the Solar System?

The outside edge of the Solar System would be the orbit of the distant planet Pluto. So far as we know, this is the most remote planet from the sun which is in the center of the system. Pluto’s average distance from the sun is about 3,670 million miles. From side to side, the Solar System, then must measure about twice this distance. But 7,340 million miles is hard to imagine without some translation.

Let’s translate it into travel time, we will figure out how long it would take us to cross from side to side of the solar family. 'Traveling nonstop at 100 miles an hour, the journey would take us about 8,200 years.   What a trip even that is hard to imagine. So let’s try to imagine a scaled down model of our Solar System.

The role of the sun shall be played by a huge yellow pumpkin two feet wide. The earth is a large pea. Jupiter, the largest of the planets, is an orange and distant Pluto is played by a very, very small pea. With the members of the Solar System scaled down to such small bodies, a correct model including all the spaces between them would require a field. three and a half miles wide and long.


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