Tour Locations | Highlights from the Virtual Solar System Drive with Fred Watson
Virtual Solar System Drive
You're doing great, just keep going straight.
[Marnie] - So Fred, I know that you were part of the team that first created this Virtual Solar System Drive. What do our Solar System Terranauts need to know about the tour?
[FRED] As you drive along and find a colourful three-dimensional planet you should remember that they are scaled in size relative to the huge observatory dome. They are located at the same distance you'd find them in outer space too - only 38 million times smaller!
If you want to work out what planet is coming up next you can remember the planet and dwarf planet order with this rhyme:
My Very Energetic Mother Just Saw Uncle Ned Pass.
Of course, if you're starting at Pluto, you'll have to say it backwards!
[Marnie] So Fred, on a more basic level, why is our place in the universe called The "Solar" System?
[Fred] There are many planetary systems like ours in the universe, with planets orbiting a host star. Our planetary system is named the "solar" system because our Sun is named Sol, after the Latin word for Sun.
The Sun, and everything that orbits it, is located in the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way galaxy has 100,000,000 stars in it and is 105,700 light-years from one side to the other! A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, which is equal to 9,460,528,400,000 kilometres. That's a lot of driving!