This activity was developed by the staff of the MMSD Planetarium and Observatory. All are welcome to download, print, and copy this activity. Please also feel free to pass this activity on to other teachers, but only in its entirety. Permission for re-distribution can be obtained by contacting our office.


About the activity

This activity allows you and your students to explore the current positions of the visible planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn). Students (grades 5-12) will build and explore a model of the current positions of the planets in their orbits around the sun. Students then look for connections between the model and when/where they see them in the current sky. Students will also design a flight plan for a space probe using the current positions of the planets.

Obtaining a copy of this activity

The Our View of the Solar System activity is available for download (copy permission is granted for educational use, but not for redistribution for profit).

Our View of the Solar System PDF Version 1.2 (5/1/02; 267k)

NOTE: If you are unable to download and print the activity, please call our office, and we will either help you download it, or send you a copy.

Download and Print the Protractor: For this activity, you'll need a 360 degree protractor PDF (3/20/02; 108k) Special thanks to Jon Hardin for his work on this project (copy permission is granted for educational use, but not for redistribution for profit).

Explore Gravity

In support of the flight plan design portion of this activity, students can explore the gravitational effects of planets in a fun way by playing a fun game online called Gravity Simulator. See if you can get asteroids and planets to orbit a star without holding down "C"!