Film makers Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh wanted to capture just how big the solar system is so they set out to come up with a seven-mile long scale model in the Nevada desert.
Acknowledging how large the solar system is and the vast distances that separate the planets, measures what some find difficult to comprehend. Overstreet said that the only way to scale a model of the solar system is to actually build one so he and his friends pursued a project to come up with one.
"Every single picture of the solar system that we encounter is not to scale," Overstreet said. "If you put the orbits to scale on a piece of paper, the planets become microscopic, and you won't be able to see them."
In the project they documented in a seven-minute short film "To Scale: The Solar System," Overstreet and his team traced out the planet's orbits and then filmed a time lapse-video of their visually striking work from a nearby mountaintop in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.
For 36 hours, Overstreet and his friends created the scale model of the solar system by converting an astronomical unit (AU), or the distanced from the sun's center to the center of our planet, to 579 feet.
At this scale, the sun measures about 5 feet across, which is about the size of a small weather balloon. Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, is just about the size of a cantaloupe and the Earth is comparable to the size of a marble.
The team showed just how big the solar system is relative to our planet. Getting into the farthest reaches of the scaled solar system also required driving in a car for a while.
Overstreet's team placed the planets of the solar system at their relative distance from the sun. Using their cars, they traced each of the planet's orbit around the sun in a dry lakebed and then lighted up the planets before going to the top of the nearby mountain at night to capture the video of their work.
It is not the first attempt to come up with a scale model of the solar system or the universe. Sweden, for instance has built the large scale model of the solar system to date. The Stockholm Globe Arena was to represent the sun and the planets were lined at a 20 million to one scale.