Lovers of the solar system are set for a treat in Lethbridge. The Lethbridge Astronomy Society along with the City of Lethbridge and other partners has put together a life-sized model of the solar system. The president of the society, Tom Anderson, explained that the project is a long time coming and will be a great tourist attraction for Lethbridge.
“There generally is a lot of interest in space and the solar system these days. Hardly a week goes by when you don’t hear something on the news about it. The interest I think is out there. I think people will want to come here and see this model because the next closest one is in Quebec and the other ones are mostly in Europe and the United States.”
Light from the Sun (traveling at 300,000 km per second) takes more than eight minutes to reach the Earth, and more than four hours to reach Neptune. Such large numbers and enormous distances are difficult to imagine.
The project brings our Solar System “down to Earth”, and centers it on the city of Lethbridge.
The Sun is represented by the 5.5-meter diameter dome atop the clock tower of Lethbridge’s Post building. Each planet model is sized true-to-scale in relation to the 5.5-meter “Sun”, and placed somewhere along its pathway around the Sun. Each pedestal carries a descriptive plaque with basic facts about the planet, and a QR code that links to the Lethbridge Astronomy Society’s website.
The scale ratio is 1:253,000,000. If we scale the speed of light by the same ratio, it would travel about 1.2 meters per second. So, within our Solar System Model, light would travel at about walking speed.
Below is a list of where you can find the models of the planets in Lethbridge:
- Mercury is located at the Lethbridge Public Library, Main Branch- 810 5th Ave S.
- Venus is located in front of the Old Courthouse 1010 4th Ave S.
- The Earth/Moon is located on the corner of 3rd St and 4th Ave, next to the main (downtown) Fire Station.
- Mars is located at the main entrance to the Galt Museum and Archives, 502 1St street S. (Scenic Dr.)
- Jupiter is located on the patio of the Science Commons Building, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive. Park in the north parking lot, next to the Science Commons.
- Saturn is installed at Chinook High School, 259 Britannia Blvd. W.
- Uranus is located at Broxburn Vegetables and Cafe Range Rd. 21-0, off HWY 3 toward Coaldale
- Neptune is located at Park Lake Provincial Park, Range Rd. 223, north from Lethbridge.
The model was supported and funded by 30 project members from Lethbridge and across southern Alberta.