The 2010 Model

How have we created our model?

Eddington Astronomical Society member Ian Gibbard has carefully mapped out our solar system “trail” for us, calculating the correct relative positions of the planets. The trail begins at the northern end of the well-known and historic “Waterside” path that runs along the river Kent, right from the centre of Kendal.

Here’s how it will work. At the relevent positions along the track there will be a tiny model of each planet, all to the same scale, and to the same scale as the distances between the planets, too. The whole thing will be to scale, just like last year. That means that people walking our solar system trail will really be able to see how huge our solar system is, how far apart its worlds are, and how they compare in size to each other.

Walking roughly south from the start of the trail, leaving the Sun behind, visitors to our model will pass each planet in turn. Just like last year, members of the EAS – and other volunteers and friends – will be standing by each ‘planet’, ready to give information and answer questions about it. They’ll have pictures to show, information sheets to give out, and will be able to tell our visitors all they need to know about that particular planet.

Let’s take a closer look at the route of our scale model…

You can see that the “inner planets” – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars – are all bunched up pretty close together. That’s because, in the real solar system ‘out there’, they are! Well, on a cosmic scale, anyway! In fact, The Sun, mercury, Venus and Earth are so close together when you look at the solar system as a whole that the people representing them in our model will almost be able to stretch out their arms and touch each other! So, the start of our trail is going to be very busy…

But there’s a big gap between Mars and the Outer Planets though, and our model reflects that…

The next couple of views show well how Jupiter is many metres away from Mars in our model, and the other Outer Planets are many metres beyond it

Uranus is a long way from the Sun, so it’s a long way from the start of our solar system trail, too! In fact, it’s way down at Abbot Hall Park, a good ten minutes’ walk from the start…

Neptune, the next planet on our “tour” of the solar system, is further down the riverside walk, beside the famous Parish Church…

Our model will also be including Pluto. Not to make any kind of statement about it being or not being a planet, that’s history now. But we are pretty sure that visitors to our model will still want to know where Pluto is, where it fits into the solar system, so here’s where Pluto will be – right at the very, very end of the riverside path…

And that’s where our trail will end! But we’ll be giving visitors maps showing where some of the even more distant bodies in our solar system – like Haumea, Makemake, Eris and Sedna – would be found on the same scale, which will, we hope, bring home just how huge our solar system is. Here you can see how far away from our Sun models of Haumea, Makemake and Eris would be…

…and here is where our model Sedna would be – almost in the middle of Heversham, almost 9km away from Kendal…!

And, of course, we’ll take great delight in seeing the looks on our visitors’ faces when we tell them that, at the scale of our model, the closest star to the Sun, Alpha Centauri (which we can’t see from the UK), would be thousands of miles away – just about in the middle of Quebec! ( The brightest star in the sky, Sirius, the famous “Dog Star”, which we can see from the UK, would be in downtown Tokyo, over 9,000km away…!

And on our scale, the centre of our Milky Way galaxy would be a third of the way to the Sun…!!

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