“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
The National Mall in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)


A Journey Through Our Solar System

Voyage Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, November 14, 2017
1. Voyage Marker
Inscription. Click to hear the inscription.  
You are standing near the Sun within a model of our solar system. The real solar system is 10 billion times larger.

Take a voyage! Imagine exploring our solar system as a giant. As you travel, you encounter the Sun and its planets, each small enough to hold in your hand. To your left you can see the Sun and inner planets. The dwarf planet Pluto is farther still. Look at the map below to see where you are.

Would you like to visit Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun? At this scale it would be the size of a grape on the coast of California, 2,500 miles (4,000 km) from where you are standing.

Our Star the Sun
Imagine the view from space. Countless points of brilliant light shine against an ink-black sky. Because it is so close, one star seems blinding and immense--our Sun.

Planets and Empty Space
The Sun's family of planets is spread across a vast and mostly empty space. This scale model of our solar system provides a feel for just how vast and empty it is. The planets of the inner solar system--Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars--are clustered close to the Sun. The outer planets--Jupiter,
Voyage Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, November 14, 2017
2. Voyage Marker
Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--are spread much farther apart.

The Sun's Family
Think of our solar system as the Sun's family. Along with earth and the other 7 planets, it includes over 175 moons, countless chunks of rock and ice called asteroids and comets, and over 1,200 icy bodies beyond Neptune--Pluto being one of the largest. The whole system is constantly moving: moons orbit their planets; planets and everything else orbit the Sun. What holds the family together? Gravity.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

William Blake, Auguries of Innocence, 1803.

More than one million Earths fit inside the Sun. More than 800 million Suns fit inside the star Betelgeuse.

In the real solar system, the planets never line up as they orbit the Sun.

Voyage is an exhibition of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education and the Smithsonian Institution. It is designed for permanent installation in communities worldwide.

A 2013 update of this exhibition's content is provided by a grant from the DC Space Grant Consortium.

Initial development and installation of the exhibition in Washington, DC, was a joint project of Challenger Center for a Space Science Education, the Smithsonian Institution, and NASA.

Voyage Program Director:
Dr. Jeff Goldstein

Design: Vincent Ciulla Design

Fabrication: Exhibitology

3-D scale models: Seaena

Porcelain enamel:
Windsor Fireform
Erected 2013 by Smithsonian Institution.
Location. 38° 53.323′ N, 77° 1.109′ W. Marker is in The National Mall, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Jefferson Drive Southwest. Touch for map. On the grounds of the National Air & Space Museum. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20565, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Mercury (a few steps from this marker); Sun (a few steps from this marker); Venus (a few steps from this marker); Earth (a few steps from this marker); Mars (within shouting distance of this marker); Asteroids and Comets (within shouting distance of this marker); Star Nurseries (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Cook Telescope (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in The National Mall.
Categories. Air & Space
Credits. This page was last revised on December 5, 2017. This page originally submitted on November 24, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 58 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 24, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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