The solar system is huge. It’s so gigantic that it barely fits in our imagination. And although illustrations and models give us some sense of the size of the planets and the positioning of their orbits, they all fail miserably when it comes to distance. Yes, we are much farther from the Sun and the Moon, for example, than we have been taught.
In an attempt to fix it, Wylie Overstreet and his friends decide to create a model of the solar system to scale in a desert in the state of Nevada (USA), showing the correctly scaled sizes and distances and giving us a more precise idea of how insignificantly small we really are when comparing to the universe. The model was built on a scale of 1 astronomical unit (AU, or distance from the Sun to Earth) of 176 meters. In order to get it done, they needed an area of 11 km, 36 hours of work and a lot of precision.
After marking each orbit, the planets – represented by lamps and marbles, the sun – a ball of 1.5 meters in diameter and the moon were all put in place. Lights traveled each orbit in order to show the planet’s movement in the video time lapse, showing a perfect scale operation of the solar system.
“That’s what I really wanted to try and capture,” says Overstreet. “We are on a marble, floating in the middle of nothing. When you come face to face with that it’s staggering.”
All images by Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh