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Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails introduces our world class project that's out of this world!

The Planet Walk Our most exciting project is taking shape 

Seventh Annual Planet Walk Scheduled for May 2


On Saturday May 2, The Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails, the Anne Arundel Community College Astronomy Club and the Astrophysics Science and Planetary Science Divisions of the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center have teamed up to offer a day of free public programs focusing on our solar system.  The events will include a Planet Walk on the B&A Trail, a multimedia presentation at Anne Arundel Community College and an evening Star Gazing Party at the AACC Observatory.

The day’s events will kick off at 10:30 am with a Planet Walk along a 4.7 mile segment of the B&A Trail between Glen Burnie and Severna Park.  This segment of the Trail features two sculptures and ten information stations representing the Sun and the planets of the Solar System, with each planet’s station spaced at its proportional distance from the Sun.  The sculptural stainless steel markers have been placed to mark the relative location of each planet site along the route. Between 10:30 am and 3:00 pm, planetary scientists and astronomers from NASA/Goddard, area colleges and universities and local astronomy clubs will be at each of the planet stations to provide additional information about that planet and answer questions. 

Participants can walk or bicycle the 4.7 mile course between the Sun Sculpture, located just south of Aquahart Road behind Harundale Plaza in Glen Burnie and the Pluto sculpture, located just north of the Earleigh Heights Road Ranger Station in Severna Park.  The event is free and free parking is located adjacent to the beginning of the Planet Walk.  It is recommended that participants start at the Sun Station.    For participants seeking a shorter or less time-consuming experience, the six planets between the Sun and Saturn can be visited in the first 1 1/4 miles of the Planet Walk between Harundale and the Marley Station Mall.  The event will be cancelled in the event of heavy rain. 

Special evening events are also scheduled at Anne Arundel Community College’s Arnold campus.  At 7:30 pm a free public multimedia presentation will be presented in Room 110 of the College’s Dragun Science Building by Dr. Michael S. P. Kelley of the Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland. Dr. Kelley will speak on “Comets, Time Capsules of the Solar System”  Comets elicit scientists to study them because, as frozen fragments of giant planets which formed with our Solar System 5 billion years ago, they contain potentially contain a wealth of information concerning the process of forming the Solar System and it’s composition.  Dr. Kelley is part of the Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI) team which flew a spacecraft past comet Hartley2 in 2010.

   Following the presentation, there will be a question and answer session as well as drawings for the daytime Planet Walk raffle.  Raffle entries are available to all Planet Walk participants who complete the 4.7 mile daytime planetary journey.  This multimedia program will be presented regardless of weather conditions.

After the presentation, beginning at 8:30 pm, the AACC Astronomy Club will host a free public Star Gazing Party at the College Observatory.   The Observatory is located outside Parking Lot “B” on the Arnold campus.  Participants will have the opportunity to utilize the Observatory’s telescopes with the assistance of Astronomy Club members and may also bring their own telescopes.  The Star Gazing Party will be cancelled in the event that overcast conditions or inclement weather prevent making celestial observations. 

The activities of May 2 will give participants a chance to gain greater insight into the makeup of our solar system as well as to gain knowledge of some of the ongoing research which continues to bring us new and exciting revelations.  Additional information about the day’s events is also available on Facebook and at www.friendsofaatrails.org.

Jack Keene

Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails



Planet Walk FAQs


Where should I start?

Start at the Sun Station, behind Harundale Plaza in Glen Burnie.  Friends of AA County Trails will be on hand to orient you to the Walk.  If the weather is clear, we’ll have solar telescopes looking at the Sun. 


Can I start at other Locations?

You can start at Pluto (near the Earleigh Heights Road Ranger Station) or at Saturn (behind Marley Station Mall).  However, the distances between the planets in the outer solar system are larger, so it will take you longer to visit more planets.  The best place to start is the Sun.


Who are the docents?

The docents at each of the planet stations are volunteers from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Maryland, local amateur astronomers, and the Space Telescope Science Institute.  They enjoy sharing their knowledge about the planets with you.


If I make it all the way to Pluto, how to I get back?

Unfortunately, we do not provide transportation between the planets.  So either plan on walking or biking back.  Or, come with a friend and leave a second car parked at the Pluto station (at Earleigh Heights Road Ranger Station).


What if I only have a short amount of time?  Or I can’t start until the afternoon?

Start at the Sun.  Mars is less than a quarter mile away, and Jupiter is a little more than a half mile away.    Since the inner planets are a short walk from the Sun, there’s lots to see and learn near the beginning.


Are there other related events that day?

Yes.  In the evening there will be a public lecture and star party (weather permitting) at the Anne Arundel Community College Observatory on the Arnold campus.


Where can I go to learn more about the Solar System?

Visit http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/.


Pictures from previous Planet Walks



Planet Walk is a linear museum of our solar system.  We are taking the Sun and the nine planets and shrinking our 3.7 billion mile Solar system down to 4.6 miles and placing it on the B&A Trail, keeping the relative distances between the Sun and each of the planets.  Imagine field trips to visit the Sun  just behind Harandale Plaza in Glen Burnie.  Students will be able to read and interact with educational storyboards created under the direction of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory Project Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) Office.  See press release for details.  Teachers will be able to access a website for lesson plans and field trip details.

The first station, the Sun, is completed with the exception of some landscaping and another couple of informational panels which will be done soon.

 The central sculpture, Spectrum, is a 26 foot tall sculpture topped with 9 rings.  Each ring represents one of the planets orbits.  There are 48 prisms inside the rings which split the light into the visible spectrum adding the active ingredient of demonstrating the sun’s roll in providing our world with colors.  Gardens and paved paths surround the sculpture with state of the art storyboards that relay educational information to the visitors in a manner that relates to multiple intelligences and real world situations.  


Stan Lebar, Dave Dionne, Anne Arundel Rec. & Parks and Friends Board Member and Barbara Lambert, NASA
   The Sun Sculpture "Spectrum"



The second planet set for installation is Pluto.  Pluto is located a mere 3.7 billion miles down the trail near the Earliegh Heights Ranger Station.  Pluto's sculpture will again comprise a similar theme as the Sun Sculpture with nine rings.

On the right is an early model of the Pluto Station.


The Pluto sculpture was placed next to the trail last year.  Friends will be completing the educational signs, and landscaping this year.  

Next on the agenda:

Mercury & Venus:

The third station planned for construction is a combination of Mercury and Venus.  The theme is rotation and the fact that Venus rotates in a different direction than most of the other planets. 


The sculpture plans for Earth are amazing.  The sculpture is planned to be completed in bronze and will be a relief with many animals.  There will be a sphere on the corner with a special patina representing Earth.

Friends will continue to construct each of the planet stations until the solar system in completed.


Planet Walk Artist -- Judy Sutton Moore

Judy is a professional sculptor with considerable experience creating large scale public art works for diverse communities.

Judy' is an artist an educator and a lecturer.  Judy exhibits worldwide and has her studio in Maryland.  Judy was chosen October 2001 to be the Planet Walk artist.








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