There’s enough room between the Earth and Moon for all of the planets

The Moon is our nearest celestial neighbor, but it’s tempting to think it’s much closer to Earth than it really is. The Moon has an average distance from Earth of 384,399 kilometers (or 238,854 miles if you prefer). We know that’s far, but how far is that really? It turns out it’s far enough to fit every other planet in the solar system with room to spare. Check it out:

All ur planets belong to us: The planets of the solar system can fit between Earth and the Moon. Credit: Astronomy Foundation
All ur planets belong to us: The planets of the solar system can fit between Earth and the Moon. Credit: Astronomy Foundation

I spotted this image on Twitter and thought it was a perfect illustration of the actual distance between the Earth and the Moon. But even then I needed a double-check so I went to Wikipedia, found the equatorial diameter of each of the planets and added them up. Sure enough, they came out to less than the average Earth-Moon distance:

[table id=PlanetsDiameter /]

As you can see, the average distance (or semi-major axis) between the Earth and Moon can accommodate all of the planets with room to spare! But perhaps the most dramatic example of the actual distance to the Moon is to simply just show it to scale:

The Earth and Moon to scale.
The Earth and Moon to scale. Click to embiggen, it’s pretty amazing!

Space is big. It’s really, really big. So big that it’s hard to not end this post with a quote from Douglas Adams:

Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

7 Replies to “There’s enough room between the Earth and Moon for all of the planets”

  1. Hello! My name is Nikola Karavasilev and I am a teacher of physics and astronomy from Sofia, Bulgaria.
    First of all, congratulations for this good article! I think it is a genial comparison.
    According to me, it illustrates how small the planets, compared to the Solar system are. We know that the distance between the Earth and the Moon is about 400 times smaller than the distance Sun-Earth. And the fact that all the planets together could fit in it shows how small part of the volume of the whole Solar system they take. I will use this in my lessons of astronomy for students, always quoting Your name :).

    Best regards,
    Nikola.

    1. Hi Nikola,

      By all means, feel free to share but there’s no need to credit me as I didn’t create the original graphic. I found it online and I think it was created by the Astronomy Foundation. I did create the visualization of just the Earth and Moon but all I did was to mask out the other planets 🙂 Enjoy!

  2. Je crois que vous avez pris les rayon pas les diamètre il y a en gros 20000km de différence cela ne rentre pas. Mais cela fait loin quand même 🙂

    1. I looked up the radii of the planets on Wikipedia and doubled to get the diameters. I added up the diameters and compared them with the average distance from Earth to the Moon. Did I miss something?

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