Our Solar System

The solar system is mostly empty. Just nothingness and dust. Then every once in a while there is something unimaginably huge or comparatively tiny. 

Mercury is around 58 million km from the sun, which sounds like a lot until you realize that Neptune is 4,498 million km from the sun. Saturn is 10 times the size of the Earth and Jupiter is nearly 30 times larger than Mercury.

In other words, the solar system is awkward to draw to scale.

The vastness of space is a real problem for someone who wants their socks to be an accurate representation of the cosmos, and an even bigger problem if that someone also does not want their socks to be longer than their legs. Since I am that someone, I had to get creative with stripes. 

Solar System Socks

I decided to use different colours to represent different orders of magnitude. So, for example, one stitch of dark orange on Jupiter is equivalent to 10 stitches of the pale orange. This compresses Jupiter and Saturn to reasonable sizes, and makes the billion and a half kilometres between Uranus and Neptune seem like a manageable distance. 

The widths of the various stripes were determined by math and science. However, in regions that need both dark and light stripes, like the space between Saturn and Uranus, the placement of those stripes was determined purely by what I thought looked coolest. 

My original sketches used exclusively pale colours for the smaller distances, and darker colours for the larger distances. While this was theoretically more satisfying, it made for low contrast between the planets and space, and just didn't look as nice so I changed it.

Musselburgh Hat in Gauge Dye works solar system yarn

Another change from my original sketches was including Pluto. Since it's generally considered a dwarf planet now, I left it out of the first draft. I quickly discovered that Instagram is teeming with pro-Pluto activists and folks who genuinely miss having a ninth planet in our solar system. Needless to say, I added it in. You'll need to make large socks to get all the way there, but now Pluto can be in your socks and well as in your heart. 

I did not include any other dwarf planets or large moons or asteroid belts. If you are a fan of, say, Eros or Ceres, I strongly encourage you to find scrap yarn in a cheery colour and add them in yourself. You're already in a corner of the internet where people are reading paragraphs and paragraphs about solar system yarn, we are all going to just love any personal touches you add. 

planet diameters and distances

I used data from this NASA fact sheet. Since planets are not perfect spheres and planetary orbits are not perfect circles, distances and diameters are all averages or equatorial diameters. If, like me, you're excited but not particularly knowledgeable about the planets, this fact sheet is wildly interesting. Did you know that a day on Jupiter is 9.9 hours, or that Venus does not have a global magnetic field? Great stuff. 

I've resisted the temptation to talk about the distance "between planets", even though that's how they're laid out in the graphic. Earth is, on average, 149.6 million km from the sun and Venus is 108.2, so I put 41.4 million km "between" them. Of course, Earth and Venus don't care about my yarn and spend, I assume, about half their time on opposite sides of the sun, much farther than 41.5 million km apart. 

Suede Tag Our Solar System

Finally, since a chart without a title is just multi-coloured chaos, I had some custom tags made and I'm including them with every skein. I hope you and/or the space nerd in your life enjoy that little detail as much as I do. Wear it with pride, nerds. 

Solar system yarn is available here.