Mapping the Solar System

Look at the picture below. It’s a beautiful picture of the Solar System, created by artists at NASA. You have probably seen pictures like it many times before. You know that the Sun is in the middle and that the Earth is the third planet.

But have you ever wondered how we got that picture? Except for a few space probes, we’ve always stayed on or near the surface of the Earth. Even astronauts have never made it beyond the moon. Our model of how the Solar System looks was created entirely from our observations on Earth.

In this Project, you will learn how we know what the Solar System looks like, and how the Earth fits in to the Solar System. The project is divided into three activities, which are described below. Click on one of the activities to get started.

Activity 1: Coordinate Systems
Activity 2: Mapping the Solar System
Activity 3: Earth, Sun, and Seasons