The Scale of Things

Hubble deep field

The image above is known as the "Hubble Deep Field". To take it, the Hubble Space Telescope was pointed at a seemingly empty patch of sky near the handle of the Plough (Ursa Major) for a total of ten days. The patch of sky shown is only the size of a 5 pence piece, viewed at a distance of 25 metres.

Despite this, almost every patch of light you can see in the image is a galaxy. Each galaxy contains typically a hundred billion stars. And each star could be the centre of a solar system, containing planets, comets and asteriods. To quote Douglas Adams:

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how hugely mind bogglingly big it is..."

And we have to teach students to understand the scale of it... Some of the following may help.

 

Key Stage 3

"The Scale of the Solar System"

Addresses:

Sc 4 "The Earth and Beyond"

The main resource is an Excel spread sheet that can be used in a number of ways. Models of the Solar System can be set up, to the scale of your choice. Planetary data can be compared to any other body (how many time more massive than Jupiter is the Sun?). A table of raw data provides ready access to information on the planets ranging from diameters, through to orbital speeds and temperatures.

Key Stage 4

"The Scale of the Solar System"

Addresses:

Sc 4 "The Earth and Beyond"

See KS 3

 

Site Administrator: Professor M. A. Barstow. Email: mab@star.le.ac.uk. Page design updated by J. K. Barstow
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