Campus hosts second-ever Solar System Walk on Thursday, May 16.
ROSEBURG, Oregon – Did you know that Jupiter has at least 64 moons? Did you also know it takes 12 years for the largest planet in the solar system to go around the sun? Those facts are just two of the many that can be learned at the Umpqua Community College (UCC) Solar System Walk. The out-of-this-world event is happening Thursday, May 16. Between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., nearly 400 people from all over the Umpqua Valley have signed up to participate in the campus’s second-ever Solar System Walk.
The cost-free walk, which was created by UCC assistant astronomy professor Dr. Paul Morgan, is a scale model of the solar system aligned specifically for May 16. Participants will be able to experience the solar system’s size and planetary layout in a fun, interactive way.
People can walk from the Sun to Neptune in approximately one kilometer. Along the way, local astronomers will be in place to share fun facts and data about each planet. All participants will get a "Solar System Passport" with a map and information about each planet. A second solar system, with the eight planets of the Kepler 90 star, will be placed at the same scale for comparison. In addition to the walk, solar observing will also be held at the Paul Morgan Observatory.
Morgan was encouraged to bring this idea to life by one of his associate groups, and he decided to make it a collaborative community effort. UCC's Art students created the planets for the event and volunteers from Blue Zones Project-Umpqua and Umpqua Astronomers Club pitched in to help during the event.
“Astronomy really gives people perspective of where we are in the universe,” Ted Benice, a member of Umpqua Astronomers, said while volunteering at last year’s event. The former assistant engineer at IBM said he ‘fell’ into stargazing after retirement and that he enjoys teaching others about the universe.
“Many local groups join with UCC to make this event fun and interesting for our community,” Morgan said.
The May 16 event is primarily designed for kids who are in school. Last year, 11 local schools brought students to the campus to participate in the walk. Many of the area’s home-school and private school students have signed up to participate this year.
For those who aren’t able to attend Thursday’s event, a second Solar System Walk will be held Saturday, May 18, on the UCC main campus in conjunction with the Third Annual STEAM Extravaganza. The free event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn more at http://www.umpqua.edu/explore-ucc.
Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.
Dr. Paul Morgan - Contact
Assistant Professor, Science - Astronomy