Best Orrery Solar System – Top reviews of 2019

Wondering what an orrery is? Simply put, an orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system, or sometimes just the Earth, sun, and moon, built to represent the relative positions of the celestial bodies. Usually, a heliocentric model is used and the sun sits at the center of the model, with the Earth and other planets and moons rotating around it.

Complete accuracy is usually impractical (although the good people at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre have pulled off a reasonable facsimile), because of the huge difference between the distances separating the Earth and its moon and say, Jupiter from Saturn. Instead, modern consumer orreries provide rough approximations of celestial positions and are mainly purchased as beautiful accessories for office desks, tables, or bookshelves.

If you’re sick of staring at the same old globes and don’t want to go the route of a handmade solar system projector, do yourself a favor and take a look at an orrery. They make a striking addition to any room and can even function as a unique educational toy for a child. (Although a baby might be better served by these solar system mobiles!)

Wanderers Orrery Solar System Model

Educational Insights Geosafari Motorized Solar System Science Kit

ScienceGeek Kinetic Art Asteroid

What Are the Best Orrery Solar Systems For Sale in 2019?

Educational Insights Geosafari Motorized Solar System Science Kit

Best Value

The first product on our list is a great gift for the youngster in your life with a passion for space and astronomy. While the planetary distances are not to scale, and their speeds do not accurately represent actual planetary motion through the heavens, the presentation is bright and engaging. The sun is represented by a bright LED bulb and the entire product is motorized to allow the planets to orbit around the sun.

It’s made of plastic and its construction is typical of toys in this price range. Considering the price, the number of moving parts, and its intended audience, this item may not last for as long as the celestial bodies it represents. A child is likely to make relatively quick work of this toy. But while it lasts, it’s bound to be enjoyed by its young recipient.

The value is unbeatable. Coming in at under $30 at the time of writing, this orrery is on sale and won’t break the piggy-bank. Despite its low price though, it remains a fun and attractive orrery kit that will keep a little guy or lady occupied for at least a couple of hours. After that, it may have a tough time competing with the nearest tablet or smartphone. But that’s true of virtually every toy.

PROS:

  • Amazing value
  • Excellent educational toy
  • Motorized and illuminated

CONS:

  • Won’t serve much of a decorative function
  • Not ideal as decoration

Wanderers Orrery Solar System Model

Editor's Pick

This orrery kit must be seen to be believed. Not only is it relatively accurate, representing the relative motions of 9 planets and multiple moons, but it is also stunning to behold. It’s made of glass, brass, and oak, and will last a lifetime if stored properly and handling is kept to a minimum.

The motor is silent and powered by two C batteries (which are included with the product). The planets and moons are made of semi-precious stones, rendering the entire product even more beautiful. The product livens up any desk, bookcase, or table, and catches even the discerning eye much better than the average workaday globe.

Be prepared to shell out a significant sum for this planetary beauty though. This orrery kit costs almost $900. You get what you pay for though. This is the only orrery for sale on this list that could reasonably be called “high-end.” It wouldn’t be out of place in a professional’s office or library. The first word that comes to mind when describing this decorative orrery is “classy.”

The workmanship is top-notch to match the materials used in its construction and, while it is best used minimally and as decoration, it’s functional as well. It boasts reasonable accuracy, mimicking the movement of the planets with surprising precision.

This product has won our coveted Editor’s Choice award for all of the aforementioned reasons and despite its hefty price tag. It makes an extraordinary and special gift for an extraordinary and special person. Or you can save it for yourself. Either way, its ultimate recipient can lose herself in its hypnotic design and motion for hours.

PROS:

  • Gorgeous
  • Durable construction
  • Beautiful and functional materials and precious stones

CONS:

  • Expensive

ScienceGeek Kinetic Art Asteroid

This orrery is currently on sale for just $17. For that price, you get an attractive, all-metal decoration to add to your bedroom, home office, or library. It’s powered by a 9-volt battery, which isn’t included with the product. It’s not terribly accurate, consisting basically of nine metallic planets attached to circular rings around a metal sun.
The color scheme is hypnotic and made up of brightly colored metal planets and one sun. The rings on which the planets rest are a brushed silver, accentuating, and contrasting with, the planets.

This is as basic as an orrery gets. There’s nothing wrong with that though, especially at this price. It’s quite small as well, weighing in at eight ounces and less than a foot across. If you’re not looking to impress anyone, this might be the product for you.

This decorative orrery is very similar in style and design to the Newton’s Cradle toys you see everywhere, but quite a bit less commonplace. So if you’re looking for something of similar size and design, but aren’t fond of owning the same thing as everyone else on the block, this orrery might be for you.

PROS:

  • Simple
  • Durable metal
  • Attractive, multicolored, metallic planets

CONS:

  • Inaccurate
  • Small

Best Features Of Orreries

Best Features Of Orreries

Like DIY solar system projectors, orreries come in all shapes and sizes. The right one for you depends on the goal you’re trying to accomplish. Do you want an orrery kit to decorate a law office? Or are you looking for an orrery to delight and educate your niece or nephew in a way that’s more hands-on than a book about solar systems?

Whatever you’re trying to do, you’ll want to keep an eye out for a few features to ensure that the orrery you find for sale is the right one to buy. (Looking to make an orrery at home? Check out how to make your own solar system here.)

Beauty

Unless you’re planning on impressing some ancient Greeks, orreries are primarily used for decoration. Obviously, you’ll want one that looks good enough to show off. They come in a variety of styles, from metallic and futuristic, to traditional and antique. Make sure that the style and appearance you select goes with the room you’re putting it in.

Materials

Orrery kits are made of a wide range of materials. What they’re made of will affect not only how they look, but how durable they are. As with their appearance, material selection is largely a matter of taste. Do you want one made of brass? Aluminum? Plastic? Even if the material you choose goes with your furniture, keep in mind that a plastic one won’t last as long as one made of aluminum.

Craftsmanship

With respect to craftsmanship, you get what you pay for. Don’t expect an orrery for sale for $35 to last long enough to be passed down to your great-grandchildren. These products vary wildly in terms of the love and care that went into their construction. That being said, the pricier items on this list can last for many years, especially when handling is kept to a minimum.

Completeness

While classic orreries depict the entire solar system, some products represent only the local planetary neighborhood: Earth, sun, and moon. The kind of product you select will depend on what you want to accomplish. Do you hope to educate a child about the workings of the solar system? You may wish to avoid the simpler products on this list. Are you looking for a simple orrery kit to decorate a desk with limited real estate? The more limited products may be right up your alley.

Accuracy

Long gone are the days that the orrery was the standard method for predicting the positions of celestial bodies. As a result, the accuracy of these products, with a few exceptions, is limited. That’s understandable, given the aforementioned difficulty with representing vastly different distances between planets, stars, and moons.

If a base level of accuracy is important to you (perhaps because you intend to use it as an instructional toy) keep an eye out for indications that the product is to scale. (Click here if you’re looking for some basic information about our solar system?)

Orrery Kits: The Perfect Gift

Orrery Kits The Perfect Gift

Buying a gift for someone close to you, but not too close, is always a difficult proposition. People we know well but not too well tend to already own the items common as gifts for such folks (bestseller books, ties, and movies), but buying them something too off-the-wall is likely to backfire.

Due to its relatively uncommon nature, an orrery makes the perfect gift for anyone who’s even remotely interested in celestially-themed objects or interesting decoration. The wide range of prices, qualities, functions, and materials means there’s an orrery for sale for virtually everyone on the planet if you look hard enough.

If we had to choose though, the higher-end products on this list serve as ideal gifts for the grown-ups in your life, while the toys are obviously better-suited to children. If you’re looking for an excellent compromise, and if you’re unwilling to shell out almost $900 for the Editor’s Choice product above, consider numbers four and five on the list, both obtainable from Etsy. At $120 and $450 respectively, they’re expensive and valuable without being overpriced.

Conclusion

Does someone close to you have a birthday coming up? Is Father’s Day around the corner? You can’t go wrong with anything on this list. We’d strongly recommend the Editor’s Choice Wanderers Orrery Solar System Model but if you’re not willing to shell out almost a thousand dollars for this option, you’d be wise to consider the Miniature Alien Sun and Planet System in Wood Table Sculpture. It’s only $120 and makes an absolutely smashing gift for anyone on your list.

4.6 rating
Based on 29 reviews

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