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Tactile image

Earth's magnetic field

Earth has great protection against harsh space weather: an atmosphere and a magnetic field.

This tactile image shows how Earth’s magnetic field works as a shield against charged particles coming from the Sun and the distant universe. It doesn’t always work perfectly as some particles can protrude deeper in the magnetic field but for that visit the tactile image: Aurora formation.

Here we use half of a polystyrene ball covered in blue crepe paper as Earth. Wires show the magnetic field lines. Notice how the shape differs: on the side closer to the Sun (in our case the left side), the magnetic field lines are squeezed towards Earth, while on the other side, farther from the Sun, they are prolonged.

The charged particles are represented by beads that flow along the magnetic field lines.


List of materials

The amount and sizes of the craft materials are approximate. You can use similar sizes and amounts – each tactile image is unique!

  • thick paper

  • scissors

  • a knife

  • pliers

  • ~8 mm wire

  • large beads

  • (blue) crepe paper

  • glue for crafting

  • (half of) a polystyrene ball

The image shows the tactile image of Earth's magnetosphere. The magnetosphere is made out of wires and solar wind that goes around the magnetosphere is made out of beads.


  • Cut the ball into two halves.

  • Glue a piece of crepe paper on one half of the polystyrene ball.

  • Take your pliers and wire, and cut it into 10 cm, 16 cm, 22 cm, 18 cm, 26 cm, and 34 cm long pieces.

  • Shape the wire into the shape of Earth's magnetic field lines. The lines closer to the Sun (on the left of our image) are squeezed towards Earth, while the lines on the other side are prolonged. This is due to the solar wind, which consists of charged particles.

  • Take the wires and pierce them in the polystyrene hemisphere. Ensure the wires are inside deep enough, so they don't fall off. Also, make sure that the wires are in the same plane.

  • Once you are done, glue the hemisphere to the paper.

  • Glue the beads along the magnetic field lines, starting on the side facing the Sun (where the magnetic field lines are squeezed). Continue towards the other side. Create at least two times two lines

  • From your image, it has to be clear that the magnetic field lines are deviating solar wind around Earth.

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