University campus becomes Solar System in galactic transformation

Posted by er134 at Nov 04, 2014 11:25 AM |
University of Leicester students use 3D models across the campus to represent planets in the Solar System

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 4 November 2014

A video explaining the project is available at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sgxTOMk6CA

The University of Leicester’s campus has been transformed into a model replica of the Solar System to capture the vastness of space.

Members from the University of Leicester’s AstRoSoc student society within the Department of Physics and Astronomy have gone ‘to infinity and beyond’ by cutting the Solar System down to size using 3D models made from ball bearings. These represent the planets according to the scaled distance around campus as part of their ‘Cosmos on Campus’ project.

The Solar System starts at the Sun and, in order of distance from the Sun, encompasses Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The planets, represented by the scaled ball bearings, have been placed across the campus starting from the Bennett Building and finishing at the Danielle Brown Sports Centre.

Professor Martin Barstow, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Head of the College of Science and Engineering, Professor of Astrophysics and Space Science and the President of the Royal Astronomical Society said: "Space is very big and very empty. This student project is an excellent idea and a great way to help people realise just how much empty space there is between the planets and appreciate the fragility of the Earth."

Having tested the calculations of the planets in the lab, the ball bearings were placed in clear boxes and mounted to walls to allow visitors to walk through the Solar System and gain a sense of its enormity. The planets vary in size, with the smallest, Mercury, resembling the size of a poppy seed.

The planets are placed on the following buildings on the University of Leicester campus:

  • Along the wall situated between the Bennett Building to the Rattray Building, the Sun to Mars
  • Physics and Astronomy, Jupiter
  • Charles Wilson Building, Saturn
  • Ken Edwards Building, Uranus
  • Danielle Brown Sports Centre, Neptune

The ‘Cosmos on Campus’ project allows the public to see how the planets are distanced from one another and illustrates the vast scale of the planetary Solar System.

This project was led by AstRoSoc members from the Department of Physics and Astronomy Angaraj Duara, Head of the AstRoSoc society and Chris Moore, Project Officer along with a team of four AstRoSoc members: Callum Middleton, Charlotte Bouldin, Jasmine Michalowska and Martin Romankiw.

Angaraj Duara, Head of AstRoSoc, said: “Science is just a child’s imagination. The mesmerising beauty of space is for everyone irrespective of what kind of an academic background you have. As the first step towards understanding space is understanding the vastness of the cosmos, we decided to come up with a project that would enable the public to have a better perspective of the Universe.

“This project is not about teaching the public about the planets themselves as that can be easily done by reading an encyclopaedia. Instead, it’s a scaled model project and hence gives people a better idea of how large our planetary Solar System is.”

‘Cosmos on Campus’ will be in place on the University campus throughout 2014/15, enabling the public to view the 3D models at their leisure.

AstRoSoc is a University of Leicester society dedicated to providing activities related to astronomy, space and rocketry to interested students. It holds regular stargazing events at the University observatory, as well as rocketry and social events.

A video explaining the project is available at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sgxTOMk6CA

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Contact details:

For more information please contact Angaraj Duara on 07404 748 997 or via email: ad347@student.le.ac.uk

An image of the model replica of the Sun on campus is attached. Credit: University of Leicester

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