The best solar system charts show everything you need to know about the solar system at a glance. Beautiful, decorative, and informative at the same time, solar system charts display the sun, planets, and moons of our solar systems in sometimes stunning detail. Other features of our solar system are sometimes featured as well, like the asteroid belt, popular comets, the Van Allen belt, and more.
So how do you go about choosing the right solar system chart for your circumstances? Read on below to find out.
What Do You Need A Solar System Chart For?
There are three main reasons people need solar system charts: decoration, education, or as a gift.
Some people just love the heavens (as evidenced by these neat solar system bracelets). Space can be an enchanting and beautiful subject and seeing the solar system all laid out in minute detail on a to-scale chart can really help to put things in perspective. If you’re primarily looking for a product to suit your aesthetic tastes, some features will be especially important to you. Other features will rank less highly, given that you’re looking for decoration and not instruction or accuracy
Some people want an accurate reference for study or research about the solar system. If this is the case for you, the features that an aesthete is looking for will become less important, while other, more academic, considerations will guide your search. Some of the charts even describe solar phenomena, like solar eclipses.
Like solar eclipse glasses, solar system charts make fantastic gifts for a wide variety of people. Children especially will frequently get a kick out of these educational and decorative charts. When giving a solar system chart as a gift though, keep the recipient at the front of your mind. The type of chart you get for an adult looking to decorate his office will differ significantly from the kind of chart you get for a seven-year-old just starting to learn about the solar system. Try to think to yourself, “What does so-and-so need the chart for and what does he or she like?”
What Should I Look For In A Solar System Chart?
The solar system is a big place. Mighty big. So big in fact that it is very difficult to draw it to scale because of the vast differences in distance between, for example, the earth and its moon, and Neptune and the sun. Therefore, many solar system charts are not drawn strictly to scale and are less than accurate.
If you’re looking for a chart for educational purposes, particularly for a youngster who’s just learning about space, you’ll want a solar system chart that’s reasonably accurate when it comes to sizes and distances. This may require that you buy a larger chart, since, in order to accurately model the distance from the outer planets to the sun without losing the detail in the more “local” features the chart may have to be of considerable size.
If, however, you’re looking for a more decorative solar system chart you may be satisfied with a smaller representation that takes some liberties with the distances involves. And if you’re looking to get an up-close look at our local star, check out these solar telescopes!)
This feature is more important for those looking for a solar system chart for decorative purposes, rather than academic ones. How the chart looks, to your particular eye, will play a large role in whether you ultimately by it. You will, after all, be spending a significant amount of time staring at the thing, so you might as well like what you’re staring at.
It’s difficult to describe what exactly makes a chart look “good,” since beauty is so often in the eye of the solar system chart beholder. This is effectively a “gut-check” type of decision. Within a couple of seconds of looking at the chart, you should know whether you like the looks of it or not.
Keep in mind as well that, if you’re looking for a solar system chart to fulfill an academic or instructional need, the look of the chart takes on significantly less importance. Don’t get hung up on how it looks if your primary concern is getting the distances and sizes correct.
Solar system charts are frequently bought for children interested in space-related topics, like astronomy or astrophysics (believe it or not, there are some kids interested in the latter). If your child, or a child you know, is scientifically inclined, there might not be a better gift out there than a solar system chart.
If you are buying a chart for a child, you’ll want to keep in mind the age and abilities of that particular child. You’ll want to buy different kinds of charts for a child who’s just learning to read compared to one who’s already entering advanced high school physics classes.
Depending on the child, kid-friendliness can mean different things. But, generally speaking, if you’re giving this as a gift to a child you’ll want the solar system chart to be easily readable, aesthetically pleasing, and accurate.
Bells and Whistles
Some solar system charts come with special bells and whistles that may or may not strike your fancy. Three-dimensional perspective tops the list of these special features and has become common on many charts. Other features like glow-in-the-dark ink or paint may especially appeal to the child in your life. Whether or not you want a chart that features these special characteristics will be entirely up to you.
The best solar system charts available will both decorate a room and instruct the viewer. Equal parts beautiful and educational, these charts come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. You’ll want to know who you’re buying it for, what they’re going to use it for, and ultimately whether they intend for it to be an educational device or decoration. Once you know those things you’ll be able to pick out the best solar system chart for your purposes. (Looking for more great solar-themed products? Check out these awesome solar filter sheets for sun-viewing!)