Why does Solar Explorer use a logarithmic scale?
Occasionally, I’m asked why Solar Explorer doesn’t use a linear scale.
The short answer is that I have yet to think of a way to do it.
Imagine if the Sun was shown filling a mobile phone screen, making it about 9 cm or 3.5 inches in size. At this scale, Pluto would be over 300 m or 984 ft away, and be smaller than a single pixel.
It would take an awful lot of scrolling to get there.
So why not simply shrink the Solar System to fit on the screen?
Doing so would require shrinking it a further 3,300 times. The Sun would be a dot at the centre of the screen and the inner planets would be so microscopically small that they’d be invisible.
The the image to the right is what you’d see at this scale, on a 1024×600 pixel tablet screen. The circles are the orbit rings of the major bodies, including Pluto.
If you count those orbit rings you’ll only find eight. This is because Mercury’s orbit is so small that it occupies the same pixel as the Sun. The Earth, Mars and Venus aren’t much better off as all three exist in a space around 20×20 pixels.
That’s why the app uses a logarithmic scale.