Photo of The "Earth" station of the solar system model in Washington, DC

Weekly Gem #133 Our earth may be smaller than you think

Published 9/9/2017

Location:  This 'hidden gem' is outside the NE corner of the Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC (see the Clue Me! Map). The Earth may seem big after traveling to DC, especially after lots of walking. In that case, seeing the markers for Earth and other solar system bodies on the national mall can give you a different perspective.

This marker is part of the "Voyage" display, a scale model of our solar system. Venus, Mercury, and the Sun are just a few steps east of Earth (a 'speck of dust' on this scale). Mars is a few steps west, and then things spread out. The planet that's really far away is Pluto, clear over by the Smithsonian castle. In the grand scheme of things, earth is really quite tiny.

Wait! There's more! The nearest planet on this scale model (Venus) is 18 feet away. The most distant planet, Pluto, is about 2000 feet away. The nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is over 13 million feet distant. To get to Pluto, you walk from Air & Space to the Smithsonian Castle. To get to the nearest star you keep going until you reach the Golden Gate Bridge.

Better pack a lunch!

From the Voyage Solar System web site:

We invite you to take a Voyage that will forever change your perspective of home.

I say!” murmured Horton. I’ve never heard tell

Of a small speck of dust that is able to yell.

So you know what I think?… Why I think that there must

Be someone on top of that small speck of dust!

Some sort of creature of very small size,

Too small to be seen by an elephant’s eyes

—Dr. Seuss,  Horton Hears a Who!


Here's the hidden gem entry from our Clue Me! map.




The "Earth" station of the solar system model

Why It's Interesting

This is one of a series of stations that gives a very unique perspective of how our tiny earth fits into the other members of the solar system. You should actually start a few steps east, past the Sun, or a long ways west, past Pluto, and visit the entire solar system as you walk the mall.

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