The Solar System Project at Gallup Park This Weekend

This weekend The Solar System Project will be on display at Gallup Park from 9a-7p on Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1. The Solar System Project is a scale model of the Solar System that stretches from Mitchell Field to Dixboro Dam a distance of approximately 3 miles. Each planet station will include the model of the planet as well as images on information on posters (printed by Kolossos Printing). The entire area is connected by the Gallup Park Bike trails, so plan to bring your bikes, strollers, and/or walking shoes. The current forecast for this weekend is looking great, but in case the forecast changes the rain date is June 7-8.

The Solar System Project is the Brain Child of Heidi Alward, a parent of a 4th Grader at Burns Park Elementary. She originally had the idea a few years ago, but waited until her daughter was older to implement it. The project has been created with the help of a grant from the Burns Park PTO and support from sponsors including Kolossos Printing. Matthew Linke with the Planetarium at the UM Museum of Natural History. They have been working on the project through

Jupiter

As I talked with Heidi about the project this afternoon, I was shocked at the sheer immensity of the solar system. A few measurements:

  • The Sun is 55″ in diameter, just taller than my daughter
  • Jupiter is 5.5″ in diameter
  • Earth is 0.5″ in diameter
  • The separation from the Sun to Neptune is roughly 3 miles

The larger planets (Jupiter and Saturn) are made of paper mache. The Earth was 3D printed to ensure that it would look like a model of earth. The smaller planets (except Earth) are made from model clay. They tried to make the sun from paper mache over a weather balloon but it was not round enough. Instead, Heidi’s husband, Jim Hartung built a frame for the sun instead.

The Sun

When I first read about the Solar System Project earlier this week, I was intrigued. After speaking with Heidi today, I can’t wait to visit the project.

Mitchell Field is located at 1900 Fuller Rd. It is a great place to start your visit as there is lots of parking and you can start at the beginning rather than at the middle like at Gallup Park.

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Ann Arbor with Kids is your go-to source for Ann Arbor Family Fun. It got its start in an activity list that I was compiling for the playgroup I ran at our church. When my daughter started preschool, the other moms were thrilled to hear about my list. I decided to take the list public in 2009.

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