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It's a Small Solar System After All

While thousands of astronomers gathering in Prague during the International Astronomical Union try to determine what qualities define a planet and whether or not Pluto meets the criteria, the Planetary Plate Project on BC's campus remains the same ... with the "planet" Pluto still represented by a marker between the Charles Martin Hall Science Building and Hutchins Library.

This project, completed by retired physics professor Smith T. Powell and several of his students in the summer of 2003, marks the relative positions of familiar heavenly bodies. Eleven brass plaques placed in the ground depict the nine planets (pending the astronomers debate), the Sun (nearest the science building), and Alpha Centauri, the star nearest the earth besides the Sun.

The plaques are the result of some dedicated hard workers and some tired teaching assistants. "For years, my TAs would drive stakes into the ground to represent the positions of the planets," stated Smith Powell, Physics professor. After several attempts to stake or tape signs to mark the planets' relative locations, Scientific Instrument Technician Dan Brewer suggested permanent brass plaques.

After enlisting the expertise of of Dr. Gary Mahoney and students Joshua Borsman and Rebekah Lyttle, the team wrote computer programs that controlled a router and made the brass plaques. Brewer and student Jason Lambert then set the plaques in their relative positions between the buildings.

When looking at Berea's own solar system realize that all the planets would not be lined up as they are depicted on the sidewalk. Alpha Centauri would actually be in Kansas.

In case you're wondering:

Sun
Diameter- 1,892,000 km

Mercury
Distance from the sun: 57,900,000 km
Diameter: 4,878 km
Length of Day: 58.65 Earth days

Venus
Distance from the sun: 108,200,200 km
Diameter: 12,104 km
Length of Day: 243 Earth days

Earth
Distance from the sun: 149,600,000 km
Diameter: 12,756 km

Mars
Distance from the sun: 228,000,000 km
Diameter: 6,787 km
Length of Day: 1.026 Earth Days

Jupiter
Distance from the sun:778,400,000 km
Diameter: 142,800 km
Length of Day: .014 Earth days

Saturn
Distance from the sun: 1,427,000,000 km
Diameter: 120,660 km
Length of Day: .444 Earth days

Uranus
Distance from the sun: 2,871,000,000 km
Diameter:51,118 km
Length of Day: .718 Earth days

Neptune
Distance from the sun: 4,498,000,000 km
Diameter:49,526 km
Length of Day: .671 Earth hours

Pluto
Distance from the sun:5,906,000,000 km
Diameter:2,300 km
Length of Day: 6.39 Earth days

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