North America on Jupiter
That big planet, so big we can’t even see it all? That’s Jupiter, with its Great Red Spot (a spinning storm that has been going strong for at least 300 years). That tiny little green blob? That’s North America plunked on top for a sense of scale.
John Brady created this one as part of an in-depth series exploring the scale of the solar system over at Astronomy Central.
One of the most difficult things to really, really grasp about the universe is just how freaking huge some things are compared to our tiny little Earth. This one image certainly helps you feel it.
The entire Earth is about 7,900 miles across. Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, has a diameter of about 87,000 miles. (And even Jupiter is tiny compared to the Sun, which is roughly ten times wider than Jupiter, at about 864,000 miles.) Like other gas giants, Jupiter’s heavy mass and cold location farther from the sun have helped it hold on to the hydrogen and helium gas that make up its thick atmosphere.
North America on Mars
Some other things in the solar system are on the smaller side. Brady also created this image of North America on Mars, which gives you a sense of how we might feel a little cramped if we tried to move everything on Earth to a colony on the Red Planet. Mars is only about half as wide as Earth is. And its smaller mass means that it produces less gravity, so everything weighs less there. And why is it red? Because of iron oxide in its sands.
USA on the moon
The moon is actually a pretty impressive size considering that it was most likely created from a collision between Earth and another heavenly body about 4.5 billion years ago. That is one big hunk of junk. And like Mars, the moon’s lesser mass means less gravity than Earth. That’s why astronauts can bounce around on its surface.
Nothing is anything compared to the Sun
On the left, the edge of the Sun, the star at the center of our solar system. And then note the tiny Earth, third planet from the Sun. Our Sun isn’t nearly as large as stars can get, though. It’s a medium-sized star, classified as a yellow dwarf. For example, supergiant stars such as Betelgeuse (which you can see in the constellation Orion) can be a thousand times bigger than our Sun. There are some really huge things out there.