Making a solar system diorama is a fun project and just about everybody makes one at one time or another.The planets just lend themselves to a great diorama. It is not complex (just a sun and eight planets) yet it is very interesting to look at. Add to this the fact that the background for the diorama has to be black and you have a formula for an interesting yet easy to make diorama.
But, how about making it just a little bit unique? That's the tutorial that I have for you here. It is a solar system diorama that is simply unique! It is in the shape of a visual metaphor. How do you look at the planets? You do it by looking into a telescope right? Well, this diorama has the planets inside a telescope. So, to look at the planets you look into the telescope :)
The picture above shows the open diorama and the smaller picture to the left shows it all closed up and looking like a telescope. The eyepiece on the right side of this telescope is open so you can look inside and see the planets. Of course you also open it and look at them as in the picture above.
Making this diorama is pretty easy and all you need is a few basic materials. You can even improvise a lot of this stuff. I used styrofoam balls for the planets but you could crumple up newspaper and wrap it in masking tape and that would probably work just as well. The big white tube of the telescope is just a shipping tube.
The Materials for this Project
- A cardboard Shipping tube at least 36 inches long
- A Paper towel tube or bathroom tissue tube
- Eight spheres for the planets.You can use styrofoam balls or make them by crumpling newspaper and wrapping it in masking tape.
- A variety of paint colors and paintbrush
- Glue or glue gun
- Glow in the dark paint - optional but I painted the sun with this so it would glow in the tube.
Let's Make it!
First cut the tube in half length wise as in the picture. Paint the inside of the tube black and the outside of the tube white. You can also put dots of stars on the inside. Then glue in all the planets in their correct order. Then you can go ahead and paint them up! The picture below gives you an idea of the sizes of the planets and the color schemes.
Now we make the eyepiece and the Dew Shield.
To make the eyepiece you cut a circular piece of cardboard, and cut a hole in the center of it and push the paper towel tube into it then glue it in place. Then Paint the eyepiece black.
Then glue that eyepiece into the telescope on the end furthest from the sun.
Now put the two halves of the telescope together. Don't glue it or anything. You want to be able to open it up and look at the planets. But we have to just add the Dew Shield and this will keep it held together.
You roll up cereal box cardboard, tape it into the right size, paint it black then slip it right over the end of the telescope. It should slide easily. You want it to hold the telescope together but easily slide off.
And that's it! Your solar system diorama is done!
Resources and More
Born almost 5 billion years ago at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy, our Solar System is a place filled with mystery and wonder. In the last fifty years, we have learned more than ever about the farthest reaches of our world. With dramatic full-color photographs and spacecraft images, Our Solar System takes young readers on a fascinating tour of the sun, the eight planets, and their moons, plus asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. Award-winning science writer Seymour Simon has teamed up with the Smithsonian Institution on this new, updated edition of his much admired book about the vast and mystifying part of the universe that we live in.