For many years, museums around the world--such as the American Museum of Natural History in New York--have given a simulated tour of the Solar System, often called “Earth as a Peppercorn” or “The Thousand Yard Solar System.” Whatever name is used, the experience attempts to give visitors not only a sense of the size of objects in our System but the vast distances as well.
This document is meant to be a handy reference--a summary of facts regarding the Sun and each of the major planets and their moons, as well as important dwarf planets, the Asteroid Belt, the Kuiper Belt, the Oort Cloud, and the mysterious Planet Nine. The following websites provided the information.
I have tried to include at least two summaries from different sites for each object whenever possible for the sake of comparison and variety.
The purpose of this document is to provide a resource for guides and educators--not only those involved with the “Earth as a Peppercorn” tour, but those who include planetariums or Space Halls in their repertoire. Further research is always encouraged; what follows is meant as a “soup starter.”
DISCLAIMER: I am a proud Tour Guide/Docent at the AMNH. The opinions, images, and links on my website do not represent the Museum in any official capacity. My website pages are a personal labor of love. They represent a life-long interest in the natural sciences and in a Museum that has been the foundation for a lifetime of learning. I urge you to visit the American Museum of Natural History’s website for further information about exhibitions and the sciences: www.amnh.org.
THE THOUSAND YARD MODEL
THE SUN: a ball, diameter 8.00 inches MERCURY: a pinhead, diameter 0.03 inch
VENUS: a peppercorn, diameter 0.08 inch
EARTH: a second peppercorn
MARS: a second pinhead
JUPITER: a chestnut or a pecan, diameter 0.90 inch
SATURN: a hazelnut or an acorn, diameter 0.70 inch
URANUS: a peanut or coffee bean, diameter 0.30 inch NEPTUNE: a second peanut or coffee bean
0 paces: Sun
10 paces (each pace measuring about 8 to 10 inches): Mercury
Another 9 paces: Venus Another 7 paces: Earth
Another 14 paces: Mars
Another 95 paces: Jupiter
Another 112 paces: Saturn Another 249 paces: Uranus Another 281 paces: Neptune
Another 242 paces: Pluto and Kuiper Belt Objects
Another 500 to 1500 paces: Oort Cloud Objects.
The Peppercorn Model, also known as the Thousand Yard Model, is a scale model of the solar system which shows, at the same time and on a linear scale, both the sizes of the planets and the distances between them. At this scale the Sun is about the size of a soccer ball, the Earth is about the size of a peppercorn, and Pluto is a grain of salt about 1000 yards from the Sun.