Learn about the Celestial Bodies of our Solar System with the Ogden Valley Bike Path
Astronomy aficionados will be happy to hear about the new planetary sculptures added to the Ogden Valley Bike Path in a collaborative effort by Huntsville Astronomic and Lunar Observatory (HALO), Mountain Arts and Music Organization, Valley Elementary, and Snowcrest Jr. High School.
Artistic renderings of our Solar System will be placed along the Ogden Valley Bike Path in their relative sizes and distances. These sculptures will begin with the Sun, located in the heart of Huntsville at HALO grounds, and will end in North Fork Park with Pluto, approximately 13 miles one-way.
The Sun is represented by an arch, approximately 14 feet in diameter (if you're wondering, the actual Sun's diameter is 864,900 miles). Pluto is around the size of a pea, while its actual diameter is 1,474 miles. And even though Pluto is technically not a planet, it will still have a spot on this bike path (and in our hearts).
The celestial body representations were created by local metal artist Mary Hardy and fabricator Steven Thompson. The sculptures represent an accurate size and distance placement of the Sun and the planets on a 1 to 326,209,000 scale. This gives the public a tangible representation of the sizes and distances of our Solar System without making the planets microscopic.
Visitors might be wondering how to find each planet. The Sun's location coordinates are 41.260902, -111.76997. Guests can type these coordinates into a GPS or Google Maps to be guided to the location. The Sun and each planet will have an information sign with the distance to the next planet and a QR code with the coordinates to the next stop. Consider these signs as checkpoints.
Coordinates aren't the only navigation option available though. What3Words is a proprietary geocode system that encodes geographic coordinates into three random, permanently-fixed dictionary words. For example, the Sun model is starring.fundraising.obstinate.
Additionally, these informational signs include statistics on the celestial bodies and fun facts submitted by the students of Valley Elementary and Snowcrest Jr. High. If you'd like to be prepared and plot the path ahead of time, the location of each planet is listed on the planet's pages of the Ogden Planet Tour Website.
These displays are free to visit anytime. The Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are already installed, however Jupiter and beyond are not in place yet. Town bikes to quickly visit planets are also available onsite at Detours.
What these collaborators hope to achieve with the new installations is to "spark curiosity of a BIG thing in a small way. We hope the Ogden Valley Planet Tour help will help you grasp the vastness of our solar system and our special place in it." Guests are also encouraged to think about Mother Earth, the place we call home while on this tour.