Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Manhattan Planet Walk

In 1999, I worked with the K-State Physics Club to create a Planet Walk for Manhattan, KS. While visiting family this summer, I took a quick trip out to the start of the Planet Walk to see what part of it still existed. In years past, I've discovered that parts of it were knocked over or removed. I was hoping I would find some parts of it were still standing when I visited this summer.

The Little Apple Planet Walk was set to a scale of one million miles per yard. This scale means the the sun is the size of a beach ball. It also means that the distance between the sun and Earth is 93 yards. A walk from the sun to Pluto was a walk of some two miles. That's a doable distance and one that can give you some pleasant exercise.

It was amazing how quickly one would walk between the sun the terrestrial planets of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Then walkers would experience a large gap between Mars and Jupiter. The distance between the gas giants of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune were equally large. Taking a Planet Walk is a good way to experience the vast and lonely distances that make up the outer solar system.

The Little Apple's Planet Walk begins at the entrance of the Linear Park Trail's entrance at Pecan Circle. This informative sign was created by Thomson Signs and donated to the planet walk  
Each planet's average distance from the sun was marked with a limestone pillar. The pillars were created by Manhattan Monuments and donated to the planet walk. Originally, each pillar held a stainless steel disk cut to the proper scale size of each planet. The KSU Physics Machine Shop made the disks.
Over time, walkers of the Manhattan Linear Trail removed the disks for each planet and knocked over the pillars. I know that Mercury's pillar is still standing, but those of the rest f the terrestrial planets do not. And I suspect the remaining planets aren't standing anymore either.

It was a fun project and I liked getting the donations that made it happen. I am especially happy that the Manhattan Parks and Rec went out of their way to get the walk installed. Thanks everyone for making its possible. I just wish people were more careful around it. I hope to get another one installed somewhere in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment