Solar System Sculptures

Solar System Sculptures along the Rail Trail

The Solar System is represented by a series of sculptures placed along the Pere Marquette Rail Trail in western Midland County.  The Sun sculpture is a 7.5 foot diameter bright yellow sphere atop a 4 foot stem.  This size is a scale down ratio of 600 million to one which then dictates the sizes of the planets.  Jupiter is a 10 inch sphere. Saturn is an 8 inch sphere but also has rings that make the sculpture 18 inches wide. Uranus also has rings on its 3.5 inch sphere.  Neptune is 3 inches in diameter.  Venus and Earth are about 7/8 inch in diameter.  Mercury, Mars, Pluto, and Earth’s Moon were scaled to less than 1/2 inch.  All the planets were fabricated of stainless steel.

Each planet sculpture is mounted on a 3 foot high by 4 inch square stainless steel pedestal.  These pedestals are bolted to concrete slabs adjacent to the rail trail.  Labels identify each planet and the moon. 

The placement of the planets was also dictated by the 600 million to one scale down ratio.  The chosen site is a perfectly straight and flat segment of the trail starting with the Sun sculpture in downtown Coleman.  The Pluto sculpture is at the trailhead in the village of North Bradley 5.6 miles eastward.  This is along the US-10 expressway between the cities of Midland and Clare in central Michigan.

Information signs are located at each end of the solar system.  Included are location information, some astronomical information, Copernicus’s model of the solar system, a photo of the 1980 lineup of the Sun and visible planets, and a map of the trail.

Click on Pere Marquette Rail Trail for more details about the trail.

Much more astronomical information can be found here on the NASA web portal. 

The Saturn Sculpture has 18” rings.          
 
The moon and earth are at 0.2 miles.