It can be difficult to explain the large scale of our solar system. Diagrams in books invariably are not to scale as the innermost planets like Venus and Earth are so much closer to the Sun than the outer planets like Jupiter and Saturn. An excellent way to illustrate the scale is through a large model like the one in Otford, a village of 4000 people in Kent, England just 40 km south-east of London. In this model the Sun is on a playing field with Mercury just 15 metres away while Pluto is almost a kilometre further.
Associated with the model there are models of a number of stars. According to the scale of the Otford model the nearest star Proxima Centauri is in Los Angeles and there is a model of the star at the Griffith Observatory. Other stars associated with the model are Barnard’s star in the Stanley Museum in the Falkland Islands and, as of the beginning of July 2006, a model of a star named Ross 154 is displayed in the Geology gallery of Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand.
There is also model of the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, at Sydney Observatory where it will eventually be put on display.