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Playing Marbles With The Planets

We’ve all seen charts showing the relative sizes of planets and moons compared to each other, which are cool to look at but don’t really give a sense of the comparative masses of the various worlds in our Solar System. It’s one thing to say the Earth is four times larger than the Moon, it’s entirely another to realize it’s 87 times more massive!

That’s where this new animation from astrophysicist Rhys Taylor comes in nicely.

Created for his blog “Physicists Formerly of the Caribbean” (he used to work at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico) the video takes the comparative sizes and masses of several major and minor worlds in the Solar System and pits them against Earth in a cascade of “rocky marbles.”

This is a pitched battle, of course, in that Earth is destined to come out on top in all of these comparisons — only smaller worlds were invited. Now if you want to see how Earth fares against the larger planets (and Jupiter vs. the Sun) check out Rhys’ earlier video “Blue Marbles” below:

They’re both really neat illustrations of what it means to have mass and density. Just don’t bother turning up the volume. (Pun very intended, but no, really… there’s no soundtrack.)

Want to read another excitable space fanatic’s sense of humor? Read more on Rhys’ blog post here, and follow Rhys on Google+.

Want some stats on the planets? Here’s a table from GSFC.


A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • danthaiwang February 27, 2014, 6:02 AM

    I created a small flash based application that does the same thing using a 2d physics engine. It’s not as pretty as the video, but quite fun : http://wp.me/p8HAV-cR

  • JagdFlanker February 27, 2014, 9:48 AM

    would love to see a similar vid with the sun (or a local smallest sized star) compared to other known stars, and maybe the milky way (or smaller star cluster like the Small Magellanic Cloud) compared to other known galaxies