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Walk through a new solar system installation at the University of Arizona

Posted at 6:31 PM, Sep 13, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — If you've recently been on the University of Arizona campus, you may have noticed something new – our solar system.

A new project led by University of Arizona Lunar and Planet Laboratory Ph.D. Candidate, Zarah Brown includes plaques going through campus.

This is a project Brown has wanted to see come to life since she got a poster of the solar system in second grade.

“It didn't show everything to scale. So I decided I was going to make my own model of a solar system at home and draw it correctly. So I started doing it. I had my little calculator out and I realized 'I'm gonna need more paper to do this',” Brown said.

Now, as a Ph.D. candidate, she is seeing her vision finally come to life.

“Everything is scaled to a one-to-5 billion ratio to the actual size. So on this scale, the sun is 10.9 inches and for example, the Earth is about 2.4 millimeters across.”

University students are also starting to take notice of the installation.

Wesley Bowers said, “It was interesting that the distance between the plaques was also a part of the scale model; the distance is scaled to the distance between the planets and the sun.”

“I walked this route every day and most of the plaques are on this route. So I noticed these a couple of days ago, and I thought it was super cool,” Akshat Jaiswal said.

Right now people can visit eight different plaques, from the Sun to Neptune.

Soon Pluto will also be getting its own plaque.

“Whether you think Pluto should or should not be included as a planet, people are emotional about it and they're fired up and they definitely have an opinion. So I absolutely wanted to include Pluto since it's such a beloved object,” Brown said.

Brown is hoping this project sparks the same curiosity in others that she felt as a kid.

“I was really touched and moved as a child to find out just how vast our solar system is and to really experience that. I would really love for people to get that sense of wonder, awe and vastness that I got.”

Madison Thomas joined KGUN 9 in July of 2023 as a multimedia journalist. She graduated from Arizona State University in May of 2023 with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She has lived in Arizona her entire life and grew up in Douglas. Madison is thrilled to share the stories from the community she grew up in. Share your story ideas and important issues with Madison by emailing or by connecting on InstagramTwitter or Facebook.