Scale of Sun, Moon and Planets in Our Solar System

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From my original Instagram post: We all marveled at the eclipse that took place in August 2017, but I’m pretty sure many of us took for granted the incredible size difference between the moon and sun. We saw the former blot out the latter, snapped a couple selfies, then proceeded with our day. However, if we grasped the precision needed to make two incredibly disparate objects appear the same size we’d likely move somewhere towards worship. It baffles me that we have so little awe in our society today. We’re glued to 4 inch screens, binge watching who knows what, letting talking heads jerk our emotions around, when, quite literally, there is incomprehensible wonder floating around us on the daily. My latest visualization tries to capture a sliver of this wonder. And since you’re likely seeing this on one of those 4 inch screens, to feel the impact of the disparity even more fully, close your eyes and imagine the following scale: if the black dot representing the moon was a penny (if you have some spare change lying around, grab a penny and feel its diameter which is 0.75 inches), the yellow circle representing the sun would be 25 feet in diameter. Now look at a wall in your house. That wall is somewhere between 7-10 feet high, meaning you would need to more than double or triple the height of your wall in order to get a circle big enough to represent the sun relative to the penny. If you’ve still got that penny in your hand, hold it up and try to visualize it centered in your newly imagined 25 foot high circle. Incredible! I can’t wait for the next eclipse to pass over North America in just under 6 years!

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