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Galaxy Club

Campus Solar System

The Solar System is a very big place! Seeing a diagram of the Sun and its family of planets in a textbook doesn't give you an appreciation for how vast space really is. The Campus Solar System at Parkland College was created for this purpose. It is a scale model of our solar system reproduced around the perimeter drive (William Froom Way) of the campus, with all of the planets shown scaled to the correct size and distance from the Sun.

The Sun, our closest star, is located just outside the Planetarium on the west side of campus. The planets then wind their way around the perimeter drive and out onto Bradley Avenue. You must travel east on Bradley to see the planet Uranus and then turn northward on Mattis Avenue to see Neptune, located near the Mattis entrance to Parkland. Note that the distances to the planets have been measured along the road and not by straight-line distances to the Sun. This will allow you to drive, ride your bicycle, or walk through our local part of the universe.

The diameters of the planets are small, but this is necessary for the Solar System to be in scale in both size and distance and for the model to fit in the allotted space. Plaques are located at each planet to tell you how far you have traveled in both actual distance and scaled distance.

Teachers . . . why not walk the campus solar system with your class? You can go from the Sun to the Earth (113 yards) and Mars (172 yards) without crossing any major roads! A brochure with a diagram of the solar system and suggestions for activities is available for download ( note: we are currently working on an update).

For more information, call 217/351-2567 or email planetarium@parkland.edu.