Have you ever wanted to travel to Neptune? Thanks to an updated solar system model on campus, you can “visit” the planet as you stroll from the Fiske Planetarium north to Colorado Avenue—just a few minutes if you hustle. You can also catch the sounds of Neptune and other planets and asteroids as they go whooshing by on your smartphone.
This week on December 8, 2021, Fiske Planetarium and Sommers-Bausch Observatory is unveiling the next generation of the Colorado Scale Model Solar System, plus an associated smartphone app that sets out to “sonify” Earth’s cosmic neighborhood.
The model solar system, which has delighted campus visitors since 1987, squishes space down by about 10 billion times. Earth, which has a diameter of 7,917 miles, is now roughly the size of a pepper grain. You start off near the planetarium where a grapefruit-sized sphere represents the sun, then walk for about a third of a mile, passing exhibits for all eight planets on the way.
Graduate student James Negus helped bring the new model to campus. It’s based on a model developed by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education called the Voyage Mark II. The installation shows visitors just how big space is, filled with vast distances that are hard for textbooks to capture. CU Boulder faculty members John Keller and Seth Hornstein helped Negus make it all a reality. Read more...