First a silly story. Benji and Ian have been looking at Wikipedia entries for bodies in the Solar System. While doing this, they encountered the term trans-Neptunian objects, which Ian explained and Benji understood as “anything out past Neptune.”

Later, we learned that there’s a new dwarf planet out in the Kuiper Belt (currently euphoneously named 2015RR245), and Benji’s comment was classic: “OH! Daddy! This must be a trans-Neptunian object!” 

After that, most of our morning was devoted to planets.

When coloring planets, we have had to break out reference guides to make sure to use the correct colors.

Benji’s pen-opening technique results in ink all over his face. Good thing it’s washable.
Team effort Solar System: I drew the planets (not real taxing) and Benji colored them. He picked the colors, too, with some discussion and consultation of his big planet book. He enjoyed making the far-away dwarf planets and Kuiper Belt objects all silly colors, since we don’t have good pictures to guide us. 

Later in the morning, we also made two sets of proportional planets with sidewalk chalk.

The sun is the arc to the left, while you can barely make out Pluto to the far right on the sidewalk. Distances definitely not to scale.

One, in the driveway, assumed the sun was 15 feet in diameter, and all the planets went from there. Pluto was, as expected, a speck. This really bothered Benji, who wanted to color them in. But most were too small to color.

So I made a bigger version in the street, where Mercury is 12″ in diameter. For the record, that made Jupiter 30′ in diameter and Saturn 24′. The sun was so big I just drew a straight line across the street to start.

I used our 100′ tape measure as a compass to make those big circles. When I finished Jupiter, Benji tab over and exclaimed, “Holy moly, that is big!” So perhaps we have a slightly better understanding of planet sizes relative to each other now.

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