OMG Space

OMG Space attempts to portray the scale sizes and distances in the Solar System


“You may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.” – Douglas Adams

Standard classroom models and textbook illustrations of the Solar System, regardless of how pretty they are, all share one thing in common: they’re wrong. Ok, maybe not wrong, but definitely inaccurate… especially in regards to scale. And understandably so, as it’s nearly impossible to portray in a convenient manner the sheer amount of space there is between the planets and their relative sizes. Even if a model manages to show one or the other in a straightforward, linear fashion, it usually doesn’t show both.

This one does.

OMG Space is a web page made by Margot Trudell as graphic design thesis project at Toronto’s OCAD University. Displayed on the portfolio site, Margot’s expansive infographic shows the Sun, planets and some minor bodies to scale, both in terms of relative size and distance. By clicking on a planet’s name at the bottom of the page you’ll be whisked away toward it, giving a sense of how very far it really is between the many worlds that make up our own little Solar System.

And if that’s not enough, Margot has included a descriptive chart for each world that gives basic information on distance from the Sun, orbital period and moon count as well as details on visiting exploration missions — past, present and planned. These can be accessed by clicking on the respective worlds once you arrive.

Each planet has an infographic associated with it, showing physical characteristics and exploration timelines. (M. Trudell)

“I created the infographics first and as I worked on them decided they needed more context, and the idea of creating a to scale version of our solar system came to mind,” Margot told Universe Today. “The project was initially intended to be all print, but knowing the real scale of our solar system I eventually came up with the idea of using the infiniteness of the web to my advantage.”

If you watch the scroll bar on the right side of the page (and I do suggest resizing the page to fill your screen as much as possible) you’ll also get a sense of how much space you’re traversing as you zip between worlds. And that’s just taking into consideration the average distances between each planet at opposition. In reality, they’re never lined up in a row like that!

If you’re so inclined you can also scroll up and down manually… if only to see how long it takes you to not get anywhere.

“My favourite thing to do on OMG Space’s website is go to Earth and then click on the link to the Moon,” Margot said. “The small distance you move yet the big gap you see… it gives you a whole new perspective on how far people traveled to get to the moon and back, and it shows how far the moon really is from Earth (I feel that it’s always portrayed as being almost right beside us) and makes you consider how powerful those rockets must have been to get us that far.

“It gives you a bit of that ‘OMG’ feeling that the project is named for.”

Yes, OMG indeed.

Infographics by Margot Trudell. See more of Margot’s work here.