Thursday, 6 October 2016

Teacher's Bits: 14-body solar system diagram

While looking to plagiarise other people's diagrams of the solar system (using nothing more complicated than a googly image search), I realised how many old and outdated diagrams are still out there, showing 9 planets. The internet never forgets, so that's not too surprising. But what actually bugged me is that all of the newer diagrams now only show the 8 full planets. This, to me, seems to have missed the point. We added more stuff, we didn't take things away. And I couldn't find a nice, simple diagram of the orbits of the 5 confirmed dwarf planets either. (There are also plenty of astrology-woo versions floating out there, all with at least one major error on them.)

So, I made my own, now available for public use and plagiarism:
Click to embiggen, save to save.

This is a very rough, rushed version, with as few details as possible. Consider this a template for anyone to borrow and improve on however they need to. For my grade 8s, for example, I plan to add label blocks for them to fill in as we discuss them all. Future versions might have proper colour images pasted over the simple circles (printer access permitting) - though there's also something to be said for letting the kids colour them in themselves. And I'd really like to make (or copy) a version that shows the more interesting eccentric orbit shapes of the outer dwarf planets. You could also add asteroid groups, the Kuiper Belt, the Oort Cloud, whatever suits you.

The main thing I've learned by drawing my own version: It's not difficult to do a simple version, but doing it neatly is the real challenge. I used paint.NET's standard circle-drawing tool, and it's a pain.