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Madison Metropolitan School District

Solar System Stroll Activity at MMSD Planetarium

Take a Virtual Tour of the Model

The Solar System Stroll is an activity to create and explore a true scale model of the solar system. When you make reservations for a planetarium program, you are welcome to also arrange time to explore this model. We've already measured out the distances on the sidewalk, and you can borrow our stainless steel planet plates and plate holders. We recommend that you do the prep work with your students before you visit the planetarium and explore the model. See the activity write-up for more information. Using our kit is free, but a guided tour with one of our instructors requires the same pricing structure as our planetarium programs.

When we set up the Solar System Stroll model outside the MMSD Planetarium, we use the long north-south sidewalk along Gammon Road. See the virtual tour for a map. We start with the sun (a tetherball) by the Lussier Community Education Center, and the dwarf planet, Pluto, is located at the intersection of Odana Road. For the starting point, look for narrow white spray-paint marks on both sides of the sidewalk, near the stoplight by Jefferson Middle School and the Lussier center.

Work your way outward from there, through Mercury, Venus, and Earth. Don't forget to stop at Earth, like it specifies in the activity write-up, to use safe solar viewing glasses (you can borrow ours) to show that the sun in the model appears to be the same size as the real sun in the sky! Great way to show that this is a true scale model!

Saturn is near the Memorial High School sign. This is the last planet where you will be able to see the sun, way off in the distance. This would be a good point in the tour to send an adult chaperone to pick up the plates and planet holders you've left behind.

Uranus is just before the Mineral Point Road intersection. Our suggestion is to stop your walking tour at Uranus. You can point down to the next set of stop lights to see where Neptune would be (Gammon Place), and the following set of stop lights for Pluto (Odana Road).

When your students see how small the planets are, at this 6 billion to 1 scale, and how much "space" there is in between the planets, they will be amazed!

You can do a virtual tour preview of the model using our Picasa web album. Not only can you see photographs from each of the positions, but the photos have geotags, so that you can view their position in Google Maps or Google Earth. You need to have Google Earth installed on your computer to do the Google Earth tour, but it's a cool way to explore/preview the model. An altitude of 1200 ft, facing toward the northern horizon seems to be a good way to fly backwards over the model in Google Earth. Enjoy!

solar system stroll

Solar System Stroll  Virtual Tour