Skip To Main Content

Select a School

Madison Metropolitan School District

Zoom Out

Zoom Out from the Earth

Description: The question of where we live can be answered with an astounding level of detail, like in the children's book "My Place in Space", by Robin and Sally Hirst. Students can come to understand that they live on a planet called Earth, and that the Earth is in the Solar System, and that we live in the Milky Way Galaxy, and so on. But these are systems that are nested in larger systems, which can be difficult for students to understand, and difficult for the teachers to illustrate. In the planetarium, we sometimes use a computer program called Starry Night Pro to zoom out away from the Earth to show this complex structure, and to illustrate where we live.

The following resources can be used after a visit to the planetarium as a way to reinforce and discuss the planetarium experience. These images and video animations were created using the same settings we use in the planetarium for Starry Night Pro.

Quicktime Video Animation:

The following animation was created using the computer program Starry Night Pro, with the view centered on the Earth the whole time. It requires that you have Quicktime installed on your computer. Once you have viewed the entire animation, you can click on the down arrow in the lower right of the window to save the video clip to your computer: choose "Save as Quicktime Movie".

Quicktime animation of the zoomout - (Large file: 35 MB)

NOTE: Some Windows users may need to use this AVI movie file - zoomout2a.avi (Large file: 126 MB)

We start at a distance of 13,000 km from the Earth. We scroll the view around to view the Earth from various angles, and we zoom out from there. We pause at several distances to look at our home from various directions:

  1. Moon's orbit.
  2. Inner Planets
  3. Solar System
  4. Solar Neighborhood
  5. Just outside the Milky Way, but with the location of all of the stars we see in the sky still visible in the Milky Way model.
  6. Far enough out of the Milky Way to see the entire galaxy. At this distance we see the Andromeda Galaxy as an oval shape in the distance, and every splotch you see in the illustration is a galaxy.

[Then we zoom back in to where we started, and rotate the view.]

PDF File with Still Images

The following link contains a presentation in PDF format. It contains still images at various stages of the zoom out described above. You can save the presentation to your computer and view it off-line. Depending on the set-up on your computer, you may be able to click on the link below, or right-click, or command-click.

Zoom Out presentation in PDF format: zoomout