A sense of scale

Here’s a wonderful image of all (known) bodies in the solar system larger than 200 miles in diameter. I love this picture not just because I’m a space nut, but also because ever since I started reading Tufte I’ve been fascinated by how simple organization — in this case, ordering the planets, moons, and asteroids by size and lining them up — can bring meaning and understanding out of what would otherwise be an arbitrary collection of facts. I’ve seen many attempts to illustrate how much bigger the Sun is than the planets before — here’s another great, but humbling example — but by narrowing the focus to just bodies in the solar system Alan Taylor gives a great sense in the variety and distribution of sizes of objects. The Earth no longer seems so insignificant!

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