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Ideas for a sun for my model solar system?

I've just built a big model solar system for use in class, and i'm trying to think of what to use for the sun. The planets are roughly the right sort of varying sizes, and Jupiter is ten inches in diameter, which means the sun needs to be pretty big. I'm thinking of a big hemisphere to cover up the base, like half a big plastic ball, but I'm not sure what to use as the size lets out most plastic balls that i've seen. All suggestions welcome!

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iproberry15 years ago
a ball (almost transparent) with a battery in it,and a strong L.E.D.
lillyman (author) 5 years ago
Not sure beach ball would be big enough, though. To keep up the dimensions it would have to be about 30 inches diameter. Also this will probably end up outside; can you varnish or treat paper mache?
Whilst it may not be to scale, a beachball is your most convenient size.

I would papier-mache half the ball, then cut that hemisphere in half to fit around the base. You might also want to make a halo of flame-shapes out of a sheet of corrugated card to go under the papier-mache dome and represent the corona.

If you have fibreglass skills (or know somebody that does), you could fibreglass over the ball, and then illuminate it from within.
lillyman (author)  Kiteman5 years ago
The fibreglass idea is intriguing...someone also suggested paper mache, then plastering over it to make it weatherproof.

I know the scale is off, i just wanted to make sure the kids knew there was a serious size difference, even if not properly to scale.

I've also just realised that unless i put the sun halfway up the pole, the planets aren't really orbiting it. The perils of making it up as you go along...!

The whole project was really to see if you could make a decent model with very little work, from stuff you could find on the shelves. so it's worked form that POV at least! Thank you all for your suggestions!
If you're worried about making the Sun central, make the pole into the Sun - paint it yellow, cover it in flames, wrap it in EL wire etc.

Otherwise, go with the Sun-at-the-bottom version, and make it part of the project to critique the model, maybe comparing it to other examples of orreries*.


(*Oh, that word gave my spell-checker a major headache!)
I hope you have the option to "add the world" :-)
lillyman (author)  Kiteman5 years ago
Good ideas; thank you.

And 'orrery' is our new favourite word at school; I didn't use it here because I wasn't sure this qualifies, being non-mechanical, but it's too cool a word not to use. So far not one teacher has known what it is....
Well, you'd need to be able to fit 1000 earths in Jupiter and more than a million earths in the sun, so your scale is a bit off to begin with.

I'd just go for a nice spherical light bulb in the middle.
Goodhart5 years ago
This gives you an idea of how the solar system is "to scale" in reality, space wise as well as size wise....with the sun about the size of one's outstretched hand. . .
lillyman (author)  Goodhart5 years ago
Nice! Think i'll show the kids that. Cheers!
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