There’s a place in upstate New York where a short trip through town will take you billions of miles across the solar system. The Sagan Planet Walk, named after longtime Ithaca resident and Cornell professor Carl Sagan, is a 1:5 billion scale model of our solar system.
The Sagan Planet Walk begins with the Sun positioned in Ithaca Commons, the city’s downtown shopping center, and ends 1,200 meters (or three-quarters of a mile) away with Pluto located at the Sciencenter, an interactive museum with over 250 exhibits.
Each planet station features a stone plinth and interpretive plaque with stunning NASA images, interesting facts about our neighboring worlds, and models illustrating the size of each planet as it compares to the Sun. The monoliths were designed by artist Erin Caruth to recall the forms of standing stones and other astronomical monuments of ancient civilizations.
Conceived in 1995, the Planet Walk has grown through the years to incorporate the asteroid belt (represented by a 40-kilogram meteorite) and a free cell phone audio tour narrated by Bill Nye, the Science Guy. A station in Hawaii (next to Imiloa Astronomy Center, part of the University of Hawaii in Hilo) represents Alpha Centauri, the closest star to the Sun. It is possible, that with this marker (sculpture) the Sagan Planet Walk is one of the largest if not the largest permanent exhibition in the world.
Know Before You Go
Visitors keen to visit The Sagan Planet Walk can download a walking map here.