Spaced Out

Space is big. Really big. This means it can be very difficult to get an idea of the scales involved. Spaced Out (not to be confused with the fan site for Channel 4 comedy Spaced) plan to bring the scale of the solar system home, to school children all around the UK, quite literally.

The plan is to have a 15 million to 1 scale model of the solar system with the Sun placed at Jodrell Bank and Pluto being in Fort William. Mercury will be in Chelford, Venus in Alderley Edge, Earth in Maccelsfield and Saturn in Lancaster. There will be 18 solar system objects in total with Halley's Comet in London and the furthest object, Quaoar, in the Shetland Isles.

Megan and I both went to the special launch (no pun intended) yesterday morning at the Jodrell Bank Visitor's Centre. The project hasn't actually been funded yet and they want to raise around £125,000 to pay for some of the 'installations' and the associated website. The plan is to have everything ready by National Science Week next year. The launch was attended by the BBC - both Radio Stoke and North West Tonight.

The TV reporter and camera man decided that they would use some G.C.S.E students to create a human model of the solar system for a short (1 minute 20 seconds) segment at the end of the news. As there were only seven present, Megan and I were drafted in to act as the Earth and Pluto respectively. In order that we could be seen on the shot, the camera man distorted the distance scale quite a bit - there was no way that I was 29 times further from the camera than Megan. To make the science a little better, I managed to convince the other outer planets to move more slowly than the inner ones. Still, considering that Pluto's orbit takes 248 Earth years, I was moving much too fast and I should really have been nearer to the camera than Neptune as Pluto became closer in February 1999. I also tried to go in a slightly eliptical orbit but you can't notice this on the TV.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Saturday 13th Mar 2004 (17:03 UTC) | Permalink
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