Scale of the Solar System: How much larger is the Sun than the planets

Many illustrations and diagrams convey the scale of the Solar System rather badly, especially how much the Sun is actually larger than the planets. Astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy decided to correct this situation and made the following collage. It clearly demonstrates the scale of the bodies in the Solar System.

The diameter of our Sun is about 1.4 million km. This is almost four times the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Against this background, even the largest planet in the Solar System, which is Jupiter, looks like a dwarf. Its diameter is 140 thousand km. Thus, Jupiter is ten times smaller than the Sun.

Saturn is the second largest planet in the Solar System. Its diameter is 116 thousand km. However, this does not include rings. The width of the three main rings, in which the bulk of their substance is concentrated and which are visible even through a telescope, is 70 thousand km. And the total width of the entire ring system, taking into account the components discovered with the help of spacecraft, reaches 280 thousand km. At the same time, the thickness of Saturn’s rings does not exceed 1 km.

The ice giants Uranus and Neptune are similar in size — their diameters are 50 and 49 thousand km, respectively. Against the background of their “older” brothers, the rocky planets of the Solar System look like real grains of sand. The largest of them is the Earth. Its diameter is 12.7 thousand km. It is 110 times smaller than the Sun and 11 times smaller than Jupiter.

A collage shows the size difference between the Sun and the planets in the Solar System. Source: Andrew McCarthy

Venus, which is sometimes called the evil sister of the Earth, is slightly smaller. Its diameter is 12.1 thousand km. The penultimate planet in the Solar System is Mars. Its diameter is 6.7 thousand km. Thus, it is almost half the size of the Earth.

And finally, the smallest planet in the Solar System is Mercury. Its diameter is only 4.8 thousand km. Mercury is even smaller than some of the moons of the giant planets, namely Ganymede (5.2 thousand km) and Titan (5.1 thousand km). As for Pluto, which once had the status of a planet, its diameter is only 2.3 thousand km.

Earlier we talked about how many planets would fit between the Earth and the Moon.

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