UCC brings planets to life in community-wide, interactive event

College’s will host second-ever Solar System Walk on Thursday, May 16

ROSEBURG, Ore. – An out-of-this-world event is happening at Umpqua Community College (UCC) on 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. 

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. Last year, 11 local schools brought students to the UCC campus to participate while volunteers from Blue Zones Project-Umpqua and Umpqua Astronomers Club pitched in to help. 

“Many local groups have partnered together 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. Many of the area’s home-school and private school students have signed up to participate. 

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.