Monday, December 21, 2009

The Solar System on I-90

After reading that eastern Maine has the solar system modeled to scale along US Route 1, with 1 mile covering 1 astronomical unit (the distance from the earth to the sun) (scale 1:93,000,000), and that Sweden has the largest solar system model (scale 1:20,000,000), I figured that something bigger and better needed to be built, with the sun in Seattle, naturally.

From the length of Interstate 90 from Seattle to Boston (approximately 3,000 miles), I decided that a good scale for the model would be 1:1,860,000, or 50 miles per 1 astronomical unit. Here's a summary of how it would look:

Sun -- centered at Space Needle, 2400' diameter
Mercury -- Issaquah or Preston (20 miles), 9' diameter
Venus -- east end of North Bend (35 miles), 21' diameter
Earth -- Snoqualmie Pass (50 miles), 22' diameter (with Moon, 6' diameter @ 600')
Mars -- Easton or Cle Elum (75 miles), 12' diameter
Ceres -- Vantage (135 miles), 10" diameter
Jupiter -- Cheney or Spokane (260 miles), 250' diameter
Saturn -- Missoula (475 miles), 200' diameter
Uranus -- Buffalo, Wyo. (980 miles), 90' diameter
Neptune -- Mitchell or Sioux Falls, S.D. (1500 miles), 87' diameter
Pluto -- Mitchell, S.D. to Eire, Pa. (average Chicago, 2000 miles), 24" diameter
Eris -- Chicago to the middle of the Atlantic (average Boston, 3000 miles), 27" diameter
Sedna -- south of Nova Scotia to over twice around the earth (average Seattle), 30" diameter

The circumference of the sun could be painted on the pavement in the Seattle Center (or built with cobble stones or another different paving type), with a model of Sedna in the Pacific Science Center.

A model of Mercury could be in a park or shopping mall area in the Issaquah area.

Venus could be near the truck stop at exit 34 east of North Bend.

Earth could be in the parking lot beside the Travelers Rest at Snoqualmie Pass, with the Moon near the hotel. When standing by the model of the Earth, the Moon model should look the same size as the real Moon in the sky.

Mars would be at the property of whoever in the Easton or Cle Elum area wants a minor tourist attraction.

Ceres could go in one of the parks or a restaurant in the Vantage area, with possibly some other asteroids nearby.

Jupiter would be painted or paved similar to the Sun, at Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, or Riverfront Park in Spokane, unless students at one of the schools decided they wanted to build a huge sphere.

Saturn would either be marked with paving stones around the Grizzly Statue at the center of the University of Montana, or perhaps on the grassy hillside above the campus near the giant M, so it's visible from all over town. I can envision the rings protruding from the hillside as a pedestrian walkway.

Uranus would be constructed wherever in northeastern Wyoming someone will take it.

Neptune would go at one of the small universities in Sioux Falls, or perhaps right next to the Corn Palace in Mitchell. Wouldn't that be nice?

Pluto would go at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, or one of the other museums or universities in Chicago, or perhaps the University of Wisconsin in Madison or Notre Dame or Toledo or . . . whoever takes it.

Eris would be located at the Boston Children's Museum or the Harvard Museum of Natural History or some such.

Each location would have a sign (or maybe multiple signs around the Sun) that describes the whole project and shows where all the planets are.

In summary: wouldn't that be cool?

UPDATE: If none of the museums, universities, or parks near I-90 in the midwest want Pluto, there's always Pluto's Beef and Hot Dogs in Oak Lawn, just west of Chicago!

No comments: