The SUN
  • The Sun is the largest object within our solar system, comprising 99.8% of the system's mass.
  • The Sun is located at the center of our solar system, and Earth orbits 93 million miles away from it.
  • Though massive, the Sun still isn't as large as other types of stars. It's classified as a yellow dwarf star.
  • The Sun's mass creates a gravitational field holding the solar system's planets in orbit.
Mercury
The smallest planet in our solar system and nearest to the Sun, Mercury is only slightly larger than Earth's Moon.

From the surface of Mercury, the Sun would appear more than three times as large as it does when viewed from Earth, and the sunlight would be as much as seven times brighter. Despite its proximity to the Sun, Mercury is not the hottest planet in our solar system - that title belongs to nearby Venus, thanks to its dense atmosphere.

Venus
Similar in size and structure to Earth, Venus has been called Earth's twin. These are not identical twins, however - there are radical differences between the two worlds.

Venus has a thick, sulpherous atmosphere. It's perpetually shrouded in thick, yellowish clouds of mostly sulfuric acid

It's the hottest planet in our solar system, even though Mercury is closer to the Sun. Venus has crushing air pressure at its surface - more than 90 times that of Earth - similar to the pressure you'd encounter a mile below the ocean on Earth.Similar in size and structure to Earth.

Earth
Our home planet is the third planet from the Sun, and the only place we know of so far that's inhabited by living things.

While Earth is only the fifth largest planet in the solar system, it is the only world in our solar system with liquid water on the surface. Just slightly larger than nearby Venus, Earth is the biggest of the four planets closest to the Sun, all of which are made of rock and metal.

The name Earth is at least 1,000 years old. All of the planets, except for Earth, were named after Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. However, the name Earth is a Germanic word, which simply means "the ground."

Mars
The fourth planet from the Sun, Mars is a dusty, cold, desert world with a very thin atmosphere.

This dynamic planet has seasons, polar ice caps, canyons, extinct volcanoes, and evidence that it was even more active in the past.

Mars is one of the most explored bodies in our solar system, and it's the only planet where we've sent rovers to roam the alien landscape. As of 2020, NASA has three spacecraft in orbit, and it has one rover and one lander on the surface. Robotic explorers have found lots of evidence that Mars was much wetter and warmer, with a thicker atmosphere, billions of years ago.

Jupiter
Jupiter has a long history surprising scientists - all the way back to 1610 when Galileo Galilei found the first moons beyond Earth. That discovery changed the way we see the universe.

Fifth in line from the Sun, Jupiter is, by far, the largest planet in the solar system – more than twice as massive as all the other planets combined.

Jupiter's familiar stripes and swirls are actually cold, windy clouds of ammonia and water, floating in an atmosphere of hydrogen and helium. Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot is a giant storm bigger than Earth that has raged for hundreds of years.

Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in our solar system.

Adorned with thousands of beautiful ringlets, Saturn is unique among the planets. It is not the only planet to have rings—made of chunks of ice and rock—but none are as spectacular or as complicated as Saturn's.

Like fellow gas giant Jupiter, Saturn is a massive ball made mostly of hydrogen and helium.

Uranus
The first planet found with the aid of a telescope, Uranus was discovered in 1781 by astronomer William Herschel, although he originally thought it was either a comet or a star.

It was two years later that the object was universally accepted as a new planet, in part because of observations by astronomer Johann Elert Bode.

Uranus is about 4 times wider than Earth. It is ringed, like Saurn, with brightly coloured outer rings. Uranus has 27 known moons.

Neptune
Dark, cold and whipped by supersonic winds, ice giant Neptune is the eighth and most distant planet in our solar system.

More than 30 times as far from the Sun as Earth, Neptune is the only planet in our solar system not visible to the naked eye and the first predicted by mathematics before its discovery.

In 2011 Neptune completed its first 165-year orbit since its discovery in 1846.

NASA's Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have visited Neptune up close. It flew past in 1989 on its way out of the solar system.

Pluto
Pluto - which is smaller than Earth's Moon - has a large heart-shaped glacier. This fascinating world has blue skies, spinning moons, mountains as high as the Rockies, and it snows - but the snow is red.

On July 14, 2015, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft made its historic flight through the Pluto system - providing the first close-up images of Pluto and its moons and collecting other data that has transformed our understanding of these mysterious worlds on the solar system's outer frontier.

In the years since that groundbreaking flyby, nearly every conjecture about Pluto possibly being an inert ball of ice has been thrown out the window or flipped on its head.

If you manage to navigate the solar system, and take pictures, why not record it on twitter and tag with #OtfordSolarSystem ?

The original web site was available up until 2011. The old web site may be viewed on the Wayback Machine.. Also be sure to visit an updated web site with more historical background on the model.

Whilst it isn't actually possible to travel faster than the speed of light, if it takes you less than 8 minutes to walk from the sun to Earth, then in the scale of the model, you are moving faster than light! 1mm on the model represents 4,595,700 metres.

In this map, planet sizes to logarithmic scale. Distances are to scale. In the actual model, sizes and distances are to scale. For this map, rough planet or sun diameter in KM = 1.556^planet diameter in pixels

Thanks to Openstreetmap.org for the map data, and NASA for images and text.

On a desktop computer, hover your mouse over the planets for more information. On a phone, touch the planet for more information.

The concentric circles trace out the approximate orbits of the planets beyond Earth. Actual orbits are not perfectly circular.