SPACE IS BIG,VERY BIG….
Welcome to the website of the State of the Solar System. One of the inspirations for creating the ‘State of the Solar System’ was to show just how big space is. If you walk from the 30″ model of the sun, 3/4 of mile north to the crossing at York St.and look back to the sun, you get a sense of the vastness of space (and you’re only half way through our scaled solar system!)
The scale of this model is 1:1,826,770,000. The Sun is represented by a 30 inch diameter sphere and each planet by a hand blown glass planet marble on a engraved steel plate. At this scale, our nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is 14,130 miles or farther than the most distant place on our planet from Bellingham Washington.
The planets in our solar system orbit around the sun. One orbit of the Earth takes one year. Meanwhile, our entire solar system – our sun with its family of planets, moon, asteroid and comets – orbits the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Our sun and solar system move at about about 500,000 miles an hour in this huge orbit. So in 90 seconds, for example, we all move some 12,500 miles in orbit around the galaxy’s center.
Our Milky Way galaxy is a big place. Even at this blazing speed, it takes the sun approximately 225-250 million years to complete one journey around the galaxy’s center.
This amount of time – the time it takes us to orbit the center of the galaxy – is sometimes called a cosmic year. Yes, space is big, very big!
At our scale, the model does not represent the largest depiction of Solar System – there are many other model Solar Systems around the world (see Links page), some of which are larger. But the State of the Solar System is unique in that it was created by a stellar team of 5 middle school students along with their science teacher and project pilot, to give a sense of place in our town of Bellingham Washington while getting to know the planets in our solar system. It is our hope that you will enjoy both the search as well as your stroll down North State Street.