Solar System Walk
Thanks. I love your Toynbee Tile idea, but I see some possible difficulties.
One issue is that the adhesion process might depend on cars rolling over it. The Wikipedia page offers that as one theory.
It might also be challenging to get the small quantities of linoleum and vinyl composition tile needed at a reasonable price. This article suggests checking salvage lots and such. I’m not sure how to budget for that.
Finally, do these designs expand or deform as they bond with the asphalt? That would complicate making a properly scaled circle.
The end result could be much better than painting, though. I added it to the plan as a possible alternative. I think it would require a test run first, at some innocuous non-car location, since it’s not something we could easily remove, and having wrong-sized-Mercury embedded in the pavement next to real-Mercury would be unfortunate. :-)
Would you be interested in working on this? At this stage, that would mean finding and pricing materials. I found asphalt crack filler and tar paper so that leaves linoleum and vinyl composition tile.
I also added your idea about bricks to the plan. I’ve got an email out to a landscaping company asking for ideas, too. But that part’s not until phase 2, so there’s no rush.
Do they have a range of colors? For Mercury and Venus, solid circles in the yellow-orange-light brown family would work OK. but it would be great if we could get blues and greens for Earth.
How much would it cost from them if we had to buy it and couldn’t get donated scraps?
Latest project news:
The ATA board is considering the project, and I hope to hear back soon (many of them have been on vacation).
Making a right-sized ball for Mars via 3D printing appears to be cost-prohibitive. Getting an 11.4″ diameter ball made of painted wood or maybe metal might work OK. Maybe one of those “maker fairs” would be a good way to find someone with the appropriate skills and tools.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center has joined with the Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails to create a project that will enable the County’s residents to stroll, bike or rollerblade through the solar system:
We were on the Brooke Pioneer Trail a couple of days ago, and riding over their planetwalk reminded me of this thread. This is a great idea — let’s keep the project going. Thanks, Steve, for all the planning work.
I particularly like the idea of making it a regional project, or at least a regional opportunity. Yes, get the Great Allegheny Passage on board for the first complete set — but provide the detailed orbits overall (plus standard sign design) so that other trails, parks, schools, and anyone else with land at an appropriate distance from “The Sun at The Point” could lay down a marker. Consider this when choosing a name — perhaps Western Pennsylvania Planetwalk” (Planetride? Planetmap? Solarmodel??)
Thanks! Picking a good name isn’t easy. I like including “Western Pennsylvania” to make it more regional, though not all the planets would be in PA.
I haven’t heard back from the ATA board yet, and sent the ATA another followup email today. Thanks for the reminder!
Just ran across an online version. It’s based on the idea of making our Moon 1 pixel in diameter.
This really drives home the great emptiness of the solar system
OK, the ATA got back to me this week.
They didn’t have anyone there volunteer to be a liaison, and therefore they don’t plan to have any direct involvement. But they think it’s a great idea, and encourage us to work directly with the individual trail groups.
I originally contacted Friends of the Riverfront, who sent me to talk to the ATA instead, which has now suggested I talk to FotR and the other groups. So now I’ll go back to FotR and see what they say.
@steven, when you approach the local trail groups, tell them that the Trail Volunteer Fund (http://they-working.org) is interested in helping, assuming that most of the work is being done by volunteers and the trails are willing to have the markers installed.
The volunteers don’t need to be members of the various trail groups, they can be interested only in this project (that is, the project doesn’t necessarily drain the trails’ own volunteer pools).
Thanks, that’s great to hear!
A followup from the ATA explained that while they won’t have direct involvement, they have final approval on all trail signs (once the local trail group approves of them), and have a very detailed list of rules and requirements for them, from fonts and colors to bolt types.
I suspect this means all the sign prices in the proposal will need to be revised upward quite a bit. But on the other hand, the result should be long-lasting quality signs.
It’s reasonable for ATA to have design standards for signs to keep the trail from becoming a total hodgepodge. I’ve seen their design standard, it’s generally not unreasonable.
When you talk to Friends of the Riverfront, consider taking a map with full orbits. Friends covers all the city riverfront trails, and the inner planet orbits will intersect along the Allegheny and Ohio as well as the Mon.
By casting this as a regional planet model, we distinguish it from most of the trail planetwalks because it’s 2-dimensional rather than 1-dimensional. This should be especially interesting to Fiends, because it hits their three major trail segments.
As to price — the permanent signs should be permanent. However, if there’s uncertainty about the “feel” of the layout, we could print up some signs on coroplast and put them up on a temporary basis, much as signs for events are put up for just a week or two.
Oh, and if you can figure out a reason the sun should be 205 ft in diameter, we can put Earth in our front yard. Even picking a round-number scale of 1:22,500 (which implies a sun diameter of 202.9225+/- ft and is easier to explain) would put us inside the maximum Earth orbit.
Only vaguely related to the project, but a great way to visualize the relative size of a few objects, is this story I ran across today.
We did not talk much about placement of various moons of the planets on this project. Seems do-able, but a considerable level of complexity beyond getting it done at all.
Afraid I haven’t had the time to do anything on this project since January. I guess the next step is going back to FotR with what the ATA said.
I rode Baltimore-Annapolis this weekend and took video of the inner planets and the sun in their solar-system-display. The perspective is from Earth to the Sun.
Then I found this, a list of 30 “Planet Walks”
I didn’t see the Planet Walk/Bike near Wheeling, WV listed…
Here’s a desert model of the Solar System using a marble for the Earth: http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/417309/our-place-in-the-universe/
In the comments there, someone mentioned a “Cycle the Solar System” model along a bike path in York, UK. They put models of each planet, to scale, on pedestals along the bike trail. Pluto (which they included), is 10km out. Earth is 2 cm in diameter. “The Sun is made from 2 fibreglass hemispheres manufactured for a septic tank.”
“The speed of light is about 1.16 mph, so it is easy to walk at around 3 times the speed of light and to cycle at about 10 times the speed of light.”
The one along the trail between Weirton and Wheeling is just paint on the trail — but it’s there.
We can make ours distinctive by publishing the orbits and inviting interested parties close to each orbit to install their own planets.
This also helps include all the trails that spread out from the Point — we don’t have to choose one, we can mark the orbits on all the trails.
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