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Item description

The Solar System: mapping planetary orbits is a challenging and engaging activity requiring students to carry out Internet research into the size of the orbits of the planets and then map them using an accurately calculated scale. The Solar System: mapping planetary orbits provides a ready-made lesson for teachers that requires virtually NO preparation. Suitable for students in years 8 – 10, it can be used as an assignment, class work or homework.

The Solar System: mapping planetary orbits covers the following:

  • what is meant by a planet’s ‘orbit’?

  • comparing the planets’ orbits: (i) closest point to the sun, or perihelion (ii) furthest point from the sun, or aphelion (iii) average distance from the sun

  • why does a planet’s distance from the sun vary?

  • Pluto’s tilted orbit

  • comparing sizes of planets: smaller inner planets, outer ‘giants’ and the dwarf planet Pluto


  • conducting Internet research

  • calculating a suitable scale for drawing each planet’s orbit

  • drawing an ellipse

Along with two printable, black-and-white Student Worksheets (PLUS Answer Sheets), a digital (PowerPoint) version of this resource is included here at no extra cost, giving teachers a choice as to which they prefer to use – taking into account the different learning styles of their students.

The Solar System: mapping planetary orbits includes a full-colour Answer Key and Solar System diagram that look great on the big screen and can be used to facilitate good class discussion. All answers are provided, so there is no need to research or fact-check here, it’s all been done for you.

I hope you and your students find this product useful and that you enjoy using it as much as I enjoyed creating it!

Praise for Ariana’s Active Science & Biology worksheets:

“I used about 95% of the worksheets with my kids this year and it was a gem during remote learning. Honestly the best resource I’ve ever purchased” – Emma Palmer (via Facebook)

Ariana’s Active Science

This resource is for classroom only and not to be shared publicly. Copying for more than one teacher, department, school or district is prohibited, as is creating publicly accessible links. Failure to comply is an infringement of copyright.