Sometimes, understanding how large our universe is (or the objects that inhabit it are) is a little tough. This is because space operates on a scale that we humans have a hard time wrapping our heads around. For this edition of "Wow, our solar system is a big place," we turn our attention to the Earth-Moon system. Did you know that you could actually cram all of the planets in the solar system between the Earth and the Moon?
To break this down, if you take the average diameters of all the planets and add them up, you get some 236,120 miles (380,000 kilometers). There is a little question about the exact figure, but it is a small figure, so in this case, it doesn't factor in. At apogee, which is when the Moon is farthest from the Earth, the distance between the two objects is about 252,300 miles (406,000 km). Now, you will need to subtract the radius of each, as we need the other planets to fit in between the Earth and Moon. This give us about 247,306 miles (398,000 km) surface-to-surface.
That leaves enough room to fit all the planets in.
For a clearer breakdown, the graph to the right shows the diameters of all of the planets. Saturn's diameter includes it's rings, though the other gas giant's only include the main body of the planet.
In fact, if you look at these numbers, you could fit the following between the Earth and the Moon:
- Mercury 78 times
- Venus 31 times
- Mars 56 times
- Jupiter 2 times (2.7 to be exact)
- Saturn 3 times
- Uranus 7 times
- Neptune 7 times
Interestingly, when the Earth and Moon are at their closest, which is called "perigee,"the distance is about 221,829.52 miles (357,000 kilometers). So the planets wouldn't be able to fit. Moreover, if we take the average distance between the Earth to the Moon, we get 233,636 miles (376,000 km). And in this case, the planets fit, but only if we align them pole to pole. This is because they are "squished" in the center and bulge as a result of their rotation.
If you want to see more about the scale of the universe, this article might interest you.