This 5.9 km Solar System Model is Built to Scale - St Kilda Beach
This 5.9 km Solar System Model is Built to Scale - St Kilda Beach

This 5.9 km Solar System Model is Built to Scale - St Kilda Beach

The St Kilda Solar System Trail in Melbourne, Australia is a 1:1,000,000,000 (one to one billion) scale model of the solar system. It shows the planets and the sun at the correct relative size and spacing. A bit of science with your beach experience.

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I'm on the St. Kilda Foreshore, at the side of this, the solar system scale model, representing the entirety of the solar system at a one to 1 billion scale ratio. The biggest object in the solar system and our model is the sun. Now it's 1.39 million kilometers across which ends up being 1.39 meters across. And it turns out it actually is hot to touch. No, it's not a design feature. It just happens to be made out of metal and sitting in the hot itself. Let's go and explore some planets.

So we brave the sun and start our journey through solar system and down the St. Kilda beach. Now this is a fantastic spot for this model. It's both lovely to be at and attracts a lot of people. So just 58 meters or 58 million kilometers away from the sun is mercury, and it's tiny. You can see already the vast differences in size between the sun and the first planet. And the spacing of all of the planets is also to scale and the distance between our next stop and the first is similar.

And the next planet is Venus, one of Earth's neighbours. This project was built as a collaboration between art and science and shows in a real, tangible way the vastness of the solar system. Well, then you can see for these smaller planets there's not a lot of space for detail and room for artistic flair.

And next up, this is home, this is planet earth. And Earth is the only planet that has its moon included in the model. And what this model really shows is the vast differences between the size of the objects, the distances between them. It really is called space for a reason. Next up is a journey that humans might be taking soon. And that brings us to our neighbour, this is Mars.

So that's the four inner planets. From here, things get a lot farther. So I'm gonna grab some transport and do it that way. And visiting this model can be done as a lovely walk or ride, or in my case, scoot. And the model was originally installed in 2005 as a temporary exhibition. And had such a positive response that it was made into a permanent feature by the council.

This is Jupiter, the biggest of the planets. And you can see a lot more of the detail and I'm sure the artists appreciated the ability to do that. From Jupiter, we continue our journey North and through the beach going crowd who I can only assume are just like me and here for the science education. Then from here, we pass the one kilometer of mass starting point, which represents 1 billion kilometers from the sun.

Then we have Saturn, one of the gas giants and probably one of the distinctive of all the planets. So we've gone from the sun here to Saturn and the distances get a lot farther from here. And the designers did a great job engaging the Astronomical Society of Victoria, they got a series of facts information on each of the plugs which is what I would read and say to the camera, implying that you a lot more about the planets than I actually did.

And as we get farther out, we get to Uranus. One of the bigger planets with around 30 moons and it's oriented differently than the other planets. In addition to the Port Phillip council, this project was funded by the Planet Wheeler Foundation who are the folks behind the lonely planet guide book company who helped turn this project from the papier-mache original models into these permanent displays.

Then we have Neptune, one of the distant gas giants and kind of feels right that it's located right near the sea.

But I know what you're really wondering. Do they have Pluto or did they install a Pluto and then have to take it down when it was kicked out of the planet club? What is the protocol for models when science makes categorisation changes? Well, I had to make one of the longer trips around 1.4 kilometers to find out.

Okay, I have just arrived at the final spot and it's Pluto. And this is the cutest thing I think I've ever seen. This is the tiny little display and look how little it is. I reckon this might be one of the smallest statues of anything in the world. It is so cute and so little, and it feels right for something which was once a planet and is no longer. Thank you Pluto.

But it turns out that's not the end. This model had one more surprise going beyond the 0.24 centimeter long Pluto to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri. Proxima Centauri is around 4.2 light years away. That is 40 trillion kilometers. But what they've done as part of this model is still kept it to scale. And you might be asking, how is that possible? Well in reality, it would be 40,000 kilometers from here but it turns out that's the same distance as the circumference of the earth. So it's in the right spot. But to get here, you have to do a lap of the globe. And that's the solar system.

If you enjoyed that, you can come to St. Kilda and check it out for yourself. If you enjoyed this video, please subscribe. There's a lot more cool stuff coming up. That's it from me.