Burnham's Model of Cosmic Distances
Taken from The Electric Sky by Donald E. Scott, Ph.D. (Electrical Engineering)
Taken from Celestial Handbook by Robert Burnham, Jr.
Astronomical Unit (AU) = distance from Earth to Sun (93 million miles).
AU in a light year = 63,241 (rounded)
Inches in a statute mile = 63,360
Check the conversions yourself at ConvertUnits.
In Burnham's Model,
- one inch = one AU
- one light year = one mile
Set the scale of the model.
Sun diameter = 880,000 miles
Sun diameter / miles in AU = 880,000 / 93,000,000 = 0.009 inches
The size of the sun in this scale is a fine pencil point.
The orbit of the Earth around the Sun is a circle, two inches in diameter.
"Pluto is an invisibly small speck approximately three and a half feet from the Sun.
"The plasma sphere that contains the Sun, all planets, moons, and comets (called the heliosphere) is about 20 feet in diameter centered on the pinpoint Sun.
"The nearest star to us is over four light-years away. In our model, a light year is scaled down to one mile. So the nearest star to us is four and a half MILES away in our model. So when we model our Sun and the nearest star to us, we have two specks of dust, each 1/100 inch in diameter, four and a half miles apart from one another.
"... Comprehend, if you can, the almost terrifying isolation of any one star in space" because each star is the size of a speck of dust, about 1/100 inch in diameter and is miles from its nearest neighbor.
"... the collection of stars that makes up our Milky Way galaxy is about one hundred thousand miles in diameter. This is surrounded by many hundreds of thousand of miles of empty space, before we get to the next galaxy.
"... Because the stars are so small relative to their separation, they have only an extremely small gravitational pull on each other.
"... It is becoming clear that galaxies are not held together by gravity, but, rather, by dynamic electromagnetic forces.