3.6
9 votes

Solar Walk

NW 8th Ave., Gainesville, Florida 32607 USA

“visit the universe from the comfort of a sidewalk”

A 4 billion to 1 scale model of the solar system along the sidewalk on NW 8th Avenue. One of the most out-of-this-world jogs you'll ever take. Realize the vastness of the Milky Way by taking a simple walk down 8th Avenue, or travel in light years and sprint through the universe. Information plaques adorn each planetary monument. These plaques are an inherent facet of the educational model. Each shows the planet's relative size compared to the Sun in this 4 billion to 1 scale, distance from the Sun, rotational and orbital period, a rubbing area for the Solar Walk "passport", and more.  The Solar Walk was first conceived in 1998 and construction finished in 2002. Several enhancements have been made to the nearly-mile long attraction, including interpretive signs, "star benches", and two sculptures representing the Comet Halley's travels throughout the galaxy. In September 2008 two Comet Halley sculptures were added to the Solar Walk (commissioned also by the City's Art in Public Places Trust, and designed by the artist Elizabeth Indianos with technical help from the AAC): (1) A Perihelion Sculpture with Tail at the location of the comet's closest point to the Sun between Mercury and Venus and (2) an Aphelion Sculpture without tail at the comet's farthest point from the Sun about halfway between Neptune and Pluto. Note: Comets are basically frozen bodies of ices, dust and rock and usually do not begin to form comas and tails until they approach the Sun close enough for their ices to begin to vaporize. Each sculpture sits on a black concrete slab embedded with glass stars and glittery silicon carbide. Two-foot tall dodecahedrons in star shapes represent the head of the comet. These forms symbolize Johannes Kepler's fascination with geometric shapes to describe the universe. Kepler was a seventeenth century German astronomer and mathematician who developed laws of planetary motion that later helped Edmund Halley predict the return of the comet that now bears his name. Yellowish and bluish colors in the tail symbolize the dust and gas content found in many comet tails. Future enhancements include additional benches, an asteroid rock garden, nighttime lighting, enhanced landscaping and more. In 2006, the International Astronomical Unit declared Pluto no longer a planet. Bill Helms, the president of the Alachua Astronomy Club, organization behind the Solar Walk, made the following statement regarding this: "As far as I'm concerned I don't see any reason to change the Solar Walk. When we put it up, Pluto was still a planet and as far as I know Pluto's still where it was before." So there's that.

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Reviewed by
Brandon Hite

  • Expert
  • 144 Reviews
  • 101 Helpful
August 21, 2013

I wonder if traffic reports along NW 8th are described in relation to the planets. "A car is broken down on Northwest 8th in Gainesville, between Neptune and Uranus."

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
RhondaSamplesBelcher

  • 11 Reviews
  • 9 Helpful
September 06, 2014

Truly unique and really unusual, and since it is free....its a real deal!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
elonchick07

  • 12 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
September 08, 2016
Rated 2.0

It's right along Florida States campus and is kinda over grown, no parking so you can't stop and walk the monuments but we got some good pics

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Reviewed by
TabithaCrosby

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
July 01, 2016

As a local its really cool to see this as a popular focal point in Gainesville and for roadtrippers to pick it up is very cooler. Go and walk the solar system they have them all including PLUTO!!

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Reviewed by
babydoll33012

  • 11 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
December 05, 2015
Rated 3.0

Very nice walk in the middle of the woods.

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Solar Walk

NW 8th Ave.
Gainesville, Florida
32607 USA

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