How to Build a Solar System

••• solar system image by Svetlana Gajic from

The solar system is a wondrous creation filled with planets, moons, asteroids, comets and the sun. Study the solar system up close and personal by creating a model that demonstrates the differences in sizes of the plants and their distances from the sun. You'll learn more about the solar system after you make this solar system model mobile from simple items found in a hobby or craft store.

    Paint the plastic foam balls to correspond to what they represent according to the list that follows. For example, you may want to paint the Sun yellow and Mars red because these are the colors most often associated with them.

    Sun-6-inch ball Mercury-1 1/4-inch ball Venus-2-inch ball
    Earth-2-inch ball
    Mars-1 1/2-inch ball
    Jupiter-4-inch ball Saturn-3-inch ball Uranus-2 1/2-inch ball Neptune-2 1/2-inch ball Pluto-1-inch ball

    Tie the dowels together with fishing line into an X shape. The planets and sun will hang from this framework. Find a place to temporarily hang your mobile with more fishing line.

    Arrange the pipe cleaners to create rings around both Saturn and Uranus. Twist pipe cleaners together and stick the pointed ends into each planet.

    Decide how far you want the sun to hang from the X-shaped wooden hanger. Cut the fishing line this length and tie one end to a paper clip. Insert the paper clip into the sun and reinforce it by adding a small amount of glue. Wait a couple of minutes for the glue to set, and then tie the other end of the line around the middle of the hanger.

    Cut 9 more pieces of fishing line within an inch of the same size as the line for the sun. You will want some variety in line length so that your planets are not all at the same level. For example, if your sun hangs down 12 inches, you may want 3 of your planets to hang 11 inches, 3 more to hang 12 inches and the last 3 to hang 13 inches.

    Tie one end of each string to a paper clip and insert it into a planet and reinforce it with glue. Position Uranus so that its rings encircle the planet vertically.

    Attach Mercury, the closest planet to the sun, to the dowels. Tie each successive planet a little farther from the sun (see the table in step 1 for the order of the planets) with Pluto being the farthest from the sun. Tie planets on alternate dowels so that the planets circle all sides of the sun. Hang the mobile in a location where you'll be able to see it often.


    • In 2006, the International Astronomical Union stated that Pluto was not a planet, but some people refuse to let it go. Include Pluto in your solar system if you want. Go into greater detail by using toothpicks to attach moons to planets. Consider painting your solar system with fluorescent or glow-in-the-dark paint.

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  • solar system image by Svetlana Gajic from

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