Talk:Solar System

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New photo to accurately show the vast distances[edit]

Scaled-down Solar System: These nine objects are spread across a radius that spans the two yellow lines.
More comprehensive caption...
With the Sun-Neptune distance scaled to the length of a football field (yellow lines pointing to the 100-yard span of the goal lines, roughly 13 meters shorter than a standard soccer, or Association football field), the Sun scales down to two-thirds the diameter of a golf ball. The gas giants are all smaller than a bb pellet, and the terrestrial planets are all smaller than the ball-tip of a ball-point pen. The yard-line distances for each of the planets are roughly: 1, 2, 3, 5, 17, 32, 64 and 100. (The inset has these objects presented within just the first yard, illustrating how the typical images of the Solar System depict distances compressed by more than two orders of magnitude.) Edited.--Tdadamemd

A long-standing complaint about this article is that it fails to accurately convey the vast distances between the planets. The lede image is typical in how it grossly compresses these distances by orders of magnitude. Today I uploaded my latest effort at communicating these distances accurately. It is being offered for inclusion into the article, or maybe someone has another idea of how this info can best be told to the readers.--Tdadamemd (talk) 09:08, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

This picture is completely unintelligible. If it requires an entire subsection's worth of text to explain it's not that helpful. Serendipodous 10:03, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes, it's a disaster. But thank you for providing a perfect example of our systemic bias. Why on earth would you use an American football analogy? Most of the world has no idea how it works. HiLo48 (talk) 10:14, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
I don't think using American football is a problem. The different types of football field are all close enough in size that it doesn't make much difference which we use. — kwami (talk) 19:12, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
See below for details of how wrong that claim is. HiLo48 (talk) 23:05, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
I don't think the tone of some of these comments are appropriate. While I agree that this particular image doesn't work, berating someone for making a good faith effort is detrimental to the project. Make constructive criticism. (Hohum @) 19:30, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
One explanation as to why the article fails to communicate Solar System distances accurately is because the same core of editors voices objection and summarily removes all attempts that have been made to do so.
The caption thoroughly explains the photo. The inset serves to illustrate just how messed up the typical images of the Solar System are. Perfectly clear to me. And I expect that can be perfectly clear to others too, if not clear to some here.
As to the choice of scaling to an American football field, you might notice that the actual game being played in the photo is not American football, and none of those players seem to be hot and bothered by that fact.--Tdadamemd (talk) 19:42, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
Part of our systemic bias problem is when those who are part of the problem don't realise it. I personally happen to know roughly how long an American football field is (despite the fact that I've never seen a game live and only ever accidentally seen fragments of games on TV), but it's obvious that several here have absolutely no idea how long an Australian rules football playing field is. I don't expect everyone to know it, but when you post as if you do know all that is relevant to your claim, and you're wrong, a lot of Australians say to themselves "Ignorant Americans, again". HiLo48 (talk) 21:26, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
How many times do we have to have the exact same discussion amongst the same group of editors? My opinion, for one, hasn't changed since the last time the same editor suggested the deeply flawed idea of using a football (whatever code you like) field as a metaphor for the solar system size scales. It's unencyclopedic, violates WP:NOTTEXTBOOK, and isn't very helpful as a teaching tool anyway (both for the reasons HiLo48 mentions and because the metaphor requires such an involved caption that it's not that helpful even for gridiron football fans). I think that portraying the distances and scales separately remains the best approach, as has been the consensus every other time this has been brought up.
What could be potentially useful is something that describes the emptiness of space in the solar system, but I think this has to be done separately from distances between and sizes of objects. At the least, as before, I haven't seen an illustration that does both simultaneously at all well. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 22:41, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
Here is a quote from WP:NOTTEXTBOOK:
The purpose of Wikipedia is to present facts...
Well the problem with the article is that it misrepresents the facts. And once you have done that, you take on the burden of correcting the misrepresentation that you have given to the public. As for the caption, it need not be long or wordy. It could simply say: "These nine objects are spread across a radius that spans the two yellow lines." Done. And as always, I'm open to any alternative ideas for improvement. Do the photo with kangaroos kicking around jars of vegemite, and I'll still see it as an improvement on the article as it stands today.--Tdadamemd (talk) 22:56, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
Which size jar of Vegemite should I use? Actually, I know that a jar of Vegemite would be a bad idea because I know that most Americans won't have a clue what 150g means. HiLo48 (talk) 23:03, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
You're grossly underestimating the percentage of drug users in the American population. Ha!--Tdadamemd (talk) 23:19, 5 April 2014 (UTC)


I arrived at a way of addressing this major deficiency of the article. Please see the latest change. I am fully aware that editors who have voiced their opinion here in this Talk section may not like the info added in this change. But please know that you do not represent all of the users. What I am adding may be a HUGE HELP to some people, as much as you or anyone else may hate it.

Because of your objections, I figured out a way to place this info in a way that does not add a single extra pixel nor a single extra ascii character to the article. It's been added to the dead space of one image.

If you happen to feel an urge to revert this change, I will ask that you only do so while making your own correction to the deficiency that this article has failed to accurately communicate the proper scale of the space between planets. If you do not have your own fix, then anyone who reverts will be damaging the article by taking away important info that will be of great help to an untold number of readers.

Basically what I'm saying is that if you don't like it, please just ignore it. The new image conveys all of the same info that the old image was giving.--Tdadamemd (talk) 03:52, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but that addition to the article simply doesn't belong. As well as all the above issues, the picture has been shrunk so much to fit it into the article that the caption is now completely unreadable and the smaller objects are well nigh invisible. PS: I forgot to mention above that BB pellets are something people from non-gun-loving countries like mine are likely to have never heard of. This discussion did not reach a consensus to add that image. HiLo48 (talk) 03:57, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

This needs to end, Tdadamemd. The "longstanding complaint" only exists because you keep bringing it up. You have tried to bulldoze past consensus twice before based purely on your own interpretation of how this article should be. Wikipedia isn't your personal fantasy project. If you feel the article is unworthy of your presence, make your own and post it on Wikia. Serendipodous 04:11, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

This is not a real problem I am working to fix? I am the only one who recognizes this issue?
Every editor who has piped in on this, I am sure, is well aware of past efforts by several editors who have worked to fix this. What you and HiLo have done is worked to keep the article broken.
My edit honored all of the objections voiced here by not taking anything away at all from the previous edit of the article. I did not shrink anything with the switched image. All I did was delete dead space and replaced it with info that may be of great help to some. Certainly not to you. And certainly not to several others here. But still to some. It is very easy to ignore, if you don't like it. What BB pellets are is totally irrelevant. People know what a human hand is (unless you were born with none, and for some reason lived your entire life without ever seeing one). The visual is a strong one, and quite pertinent to anyone who may never have heard of a BB pellet and maybe never even heard of a pen. All you have to do is just look at the picture. The info is right there. The text in the image is not readable? Fine. Just ignore it. You are just as good off as with the previous version where all it had was grey. You happen to be curious? Fine there too. Just click on the image and ...viola! You're presented with a complete explanation. Click once more and you get a rich set of details.
The people who seem to be on a "mission" here are the ones who persistently delete the efforts of various editors who strive to communicate the vast space within the Solar System accurately. I am baffled as to why you all want to keep this article broken, when you've been presented with a totally non-intrusive fix.
This article used to have an extremely wide image that a reader could scroll through to convey exactly to scale the vast distances between planets. I had absolutely nothing to do with that edit. If people here are really bent on eliminating my contributions, then you could at least re-add that image to the article. It was not intrusive at all either. This is what I had asked of you all. I find it to be a totally reasonable request.
And if the consensus is that this article is better by maintaining a distorted presentation of distance and not making any attempt to do so in any accurate way, I have yet to see anyone voice that opinion, let alone stand behind it. What I've seen is people adamantly say that it cannot be done. Well it has been done. It's been done by me and it's also been done by other editors.--Tdadamemd (talk) 04:29, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Adding a useless picture damages the quality of the article. HiLo48 (talk) 04:35, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
It hasn't been done. YOUR PICTURE IS TERRIBLE. It's unclear; it's ugly; it's cluttered; it's dark. All anyone will see when they look at it is a hand holding what looks like a small orange and, for some reason, pens. I don't know how I can say this any more clearly. As for "various editors", the only other editor who agreed with you (marginally) was Kamikagami, and I'm sure he'll show up soon enough to clarify his position. Serendipodous 05:07, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
It still hasn't been done. All attempts have been laughable, and this latest is the worst. Tbayboy (talk) 05:13, 6 April 2014 (UTC) presenting wrong information is preferred to all of these efforts toward presenting accurate info. Very curious.
For anyone who would like a memory jogger regarding past efforts to fix this issue, here is just one image that was added to the article, then summarily eradicated:
Revision as of 22:33, 20 February 2013, by Darklich14 (scroll to the bottom)
I myself was not a big fan of that image. But I still see it as a major improvement over no attempt to accurately communicate scale.--Tdadamemd (talk) 06:38, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
As I said twice in our previous conversation, we have TWO IMAGES that convey the orbits of the Solar System to scale. We also have several images that show the sizes of the Solar System objects to scale. What we don't have is an image that conveys both at once, because there is no way to do so in a clear, educational manner. So far, all your efforts have done is reinforce that point. Serendipodous 07:10, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Tdadamemd, you have at least twice said that the article presents "wrong" information. To what are you referring? I see nothing in the article that is wrong, only a presentation that you argue (clearly in the face of consensus, which is fine in itself) is misleading. I think that the distances and scales section of the text is quite clear and accurate, discussing the sizes relative to the distances factually without metaphors that are only helpful to a subset of our readers. I do think the football analogy at the end of that section (which I recall being the outcome of one of these previous rounds of discussion) is not helpful and could go. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 12:13, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────It seems to me that giving a "familiar objects scaled in a familiar place" scenario can be shown, and in a useful way. An image similar to this giving the distance scale, and a second image with the objects themselves would convey the information, almost without a caption. I don't think a ~100 yard long field, whether it is american football, soccer, etc. is systemic bias, although a 100m sprint track is a fairly universal standard which might be of use. (Hohum @) 13:03, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

I can see why there is so much frustration now. Tdadamemd, please follow WP:BRD. You have made your bold edit - it's been Reverted, we're now in Discussion. I suggest you post any prospective changes here for comment first. (Hohum @) 16:36, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Planets and sun size comparison (inset scaled to football field).jpg
This is far too cluttered, the text unreadable as a thumbnail (which makes it pointless) - blocks of text in images is just a bad idea. The image holds too many elements, which clutters it and makes it confusing. An inset in an inset in a thumbnail? Really? (Hohum @) 16:41, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
First I'd like to reply to Alex's question...
Say you know absolutely nothing about the Solar System. You Google. The very top link is to this article. You click. What do you see?
...Well, the very first image you're presented with is THIS ONE of the Sun and eight planets.
Now you have an image in your head of what the Solar System is. And guess what that image is? The very same image that is placed into the heads of everyone who has sought out info about the Solar System. And, wait for it, ... That image is WRONG. If you don't agree with my point here, I recommend you watch Derek's excellent Veritasium video where he shows how grossly mistaken people are with just their understanding of Earth-Moon distance (video here).
People have NO CLUE.
Try this with Solar System scale and their answers will be even more wrong. Why? Because they are just regurgitating what they've been taught. And every image of the Solar System they've ever been shown is wrong. Wrong by several orders of magnitude.
The image I put into the article (which was quickly removed) happens to be accurate.
The article has been returned to its previous state of not only not having an accurate image, but persisting in presenting these wrong images. How do we editors justify that this article is actually performing a positive service to its readers? We do this by including the caption:
"Sizes are to scale, distances and illumination are not."
Hohum, if you're looking for a "really", I suggest that THERE'S your 'really'. Let's set aside, for a moment, this bizarre concept of illumination not being to scale. Can we really present this image that happens to be distorted by several orders of magnitude, and then go soundly to sleep at night because we told people in the fine print that "distances aren't to scale"?!
What if someone owed you thousands of dollars, and then they hand you a single dollar and tell you, "This dollar I'm handing you is representative of my debt that I'm paying off. We're done here."
THIS is the kind of magnitude of error that I'm talking about, that so many here don't seem to care about.
So what if you think the image sucks? I maintain that it's better than nothing. And I further maintain that it is the absolutely very least we must do after we have lied to the public.
Yes, you heard me correctly: THIS ARTICLE IS LYING TO EVERYONE.
We tell the lie, and in the caption we give the most gentle of hints toward the truth: "distances aren't to scale". Well why not tell the truth in the first place? Why not attempt to present things as accurately as we can?
(Oh, and by the way, if your criteria for eliminating images from the article is that text in the image is hard to read, you'd delete a further 11 more images from the Solar System article, by my count.)
Is the heinous sin here really that I added an image that has a caption built into a thumbnail? I ask you all to reconsider.
No wait, I won't ask. I'm done here. I am announcing that I am leaving this forum for at least a year. People are smart. They will be able to figure out that they've been lied to. What I am pushing for is a paradigm shift regarding how the Solar System is presented. This will take time. Clearly this is not the forum for me to push for change. At least, not the way the vocal majority is currently comprised, and has been comprised for a very long time here.
Those of us who have been pushing for this shift in understanding have continually been squashed. I don't want to waste any more of my time in such a forum. I will check back in a year or so, and see what if any progress has been made. For now, I bid y'all adieu. I don't want to force my opinions onto anyone. What I've presented here is just a glimpse at what I see to be a step in the positive direction. You all can do whatever you want with what I've freely given. Throw it in the trash, if you like. Actually, you have discarded it. So just keep it there. Or perhaps think things over. If someone comes up with some other idea that everyone can agree is an improvement, then great.
...and if you all decide to keep the article just the way it is right now, that's fine too. The masses have maintained this view of the Solar System for as long as I can remember, and as far as I know no one has died because of it. You all do what you think is best, and I for a while will pursue the efforts I see to be best. Bye.--Tdadamemd (talk) 08:02, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
This isn't a forum. HiLo48 (talk) 08:16, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
There is no one else, Tdadamemd. There is only you. Only you have raised objections about this, and only you have resurrected them. In fact, it is somewhat hypocritical of you to accuse others on this talk page of misleading people. This is your crusade, no one else's, and if you come back in a year, it will be the same, because no one else cares. Serendipodous 08:36, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
The simple fact that we cannot converge to an agreement on the simple fact that this Talk page is a forum for discussion serves to indicate the level of hope for progress.
I'm a huge fan of Lsmpascal's work. But even the Solar System images at the bottom of this page:
...I see as typically tragic. It contains the standard "planets were magnified to be visible" caveat, but for whatever reason chooses to not even tell us how much they were magnified by.
Ok, I would like to make a smooth departure here. I do not intend to post a reply to every parting criticism. I can leave with a general understanding of the consensus opinion versus the opinion I maintain. I am not going to take my time to scour the archives to give a complete list of other editors who have voiced this opinion I have been promoting. One simply can scroll a bit up this page to prove to themselves that I am not alone. But alone or not is irrelevant in the process of science. There is only the path that brings one closer to truth, and the path that keeps one further from truth. Often, that first path is totally empty.
And I'm also well aware that words I have decided to use, like 'lie' and 'wrong' can be read as being harsh or perhaps even abusive. I've used those words for the sole purpose of emphasizing the point. I actually see all images of the Solar System to be people's best efforts. I see our article in its current state to likewise be our collective best effort. But as good as current states are, they almost always have room for improvement. The strength of the words I've been using I offer as a measure of how significant an improvement I think can be made with what we have available today.--Tdadamemd (talk) 09:41, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

Here's what Derek said in that video:

"Diagrams that are not to scale are pretty common. ... But they can have a problematic effect on learning because they give people the wrong idea about the relative proximities of things."

His words, not mine.
Ok, that looks like a good stopping point for me.--Tdadamemd (talk) 10:04, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

I just now remembered what Bill Nye did to present the Solar System in accurate size&distance. If anyone would like to see his approach, it is here:

Bill Nye The Science Guy - The Planets (aired 1995Jan14)

He rides his bicycle down a very very long stretch of road, starting at the Sun. Then 3 km later, he arrives at Neptune. I probably mentioned this in past discussion, but while I see that effort to be valiant, I don't see his approach to be the best because it introduces an unnecessary complication of adding the dimension of time. You have to somehow gauge how long he has been biking. Does anyone really have a good sense of how far 3km is? With a playing field, however, many people have a lot of first hand experience with how long a distance it stretches. And for those who have never played on one, it is easy to go and just look and see how long it is end to end, visible in one glance. And we also have very good experience with the size of the tip of a ball-point pen. Ok, this is starting to sound like I am raising the debate again. I have no need to spiral in any debate. I just wanted to mention this different approach Bill Nye used, for anyone who may see any value in it. This might spur an idea toward a new approach that hasn't been thought of before.

So if anyone still wants to maintain that no one else cares about this issue, its been made clear here that such a position is ignoring the views of people like Bill Nye and Derek at Veritasium, let alone Wikipedia editors who have raised their voice here on this page over the years. The question I'm leaving you all with is whether you want to leave this article broken*, or whether you want to fix it. Several people are showing paths to getting that done.--Tdadamemd (talk) 11:24, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
* "Diagrams that are not to scale ...give people the wrong idea about the relative proximities of things." -D at V (my emphasis)

Note that we're having this "discussion" with a user who has been indefinitely blocked for sock puppetry following a block for edit warring, hence the changing username and occasional posts from IPs. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 20:41, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

While on this discussion, Tdadamemd has added the same image to Solar System model#A model based on a sports field, replacing an even worse image that the same user had put there in a previous round of this discussion when (s)he couldn't get consensus to add it to Solar System. That page could use some attention. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 21:39, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

Really disappointing[edit]

I came to this article assuming that it would provide compositional information about the solar system. What is the Sun's mass fraction in the solar system? Mercury? Earth? Jupiter? the asteroids? Kuiper belt? Oort Cloud? Could find nothing. Really disappointing. In addition this article makes the risible claim that "Due to their higher boiling points, only metals and silicates could exist in the warm inner Solar System close to the Sun..." So, I guess we can safely conclude from this that the Sun must be composed of metals and silicates, or that the Earth can have nothing with a lower boiling point than lead??? To be clear, the boiling point of the compounds determined which would migrate away from the heat of the proto-Sun, not which could "exist" near it. Could someone please correct the false statement and consider providing a breakdown of the components of our Solar System? Thanks! (talk) 14:19, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

The mass fractions are mentioned in the structure section.Serendipodous 14:27, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 30 May 2014[edit]

There should be a space between "of" and "Earth" in the phrase, "half the original mass of the Sun but only the size ofEarth." (talk) 20:25, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done{{U|Technical 13}} (etc) 22:29, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 24 June 2014[edit]

Sun radius in A.U. would be better understood with 0 in front of the decimal separator (talk) 10:15, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done thanks - Arjayay (talk) 10:43, 24 June 2014 (UTC)