We’ve all seen models of our solar system before, but I had not seen anything like the Lightspeed Planet Walk until we visited Anchorage, Alaska. Not only was the model made to scale, but the scale was selected such that a leisurely walking pace matches that of the speed of light. That means that it takes a person about eight minutes to walk from the model of the sun to the model of the Earth, just like it takes about eight minutes for light to travel from the real sun to Earth.
The place to start is the corner of 5th Avenue and G Street. You’ll see an overview of the model with a map and more information. Then head over to the nearby sun.
To visit Mercury, walk westward on 5th Avenue about a block. There you will see a sign with a model of Mercury.
Do you see Mercury? It’s on the sign, above the word Mercury. Yes, it’s tiny!! Like, the size of a gumball. Read about Mercury on the sign, then walk another block westward to Venus.
After another block you’ll come to Earth. I think it really gives kids (and adults) perspective on just how far away the nearest planet is.
Two blocks further, you’ll find Mars.
At this point, the Lightspeed Planet Walk takes a different course. It begins to follow the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail rather than city streets.
After Mars the planets become further apart. Basketball-sized Jupiter is a 45 minute walk from the Sun.
We ended our journey through the solar system at Jupiter, which was enough for us to get an appreciation for it. It would have taken 25 minutes to get to Saturn and then over an hour to get to Uranus. Pluto (yes, Pluto is included in their model) is 5 hours and 30 minutes from the sun.
We thought this was a very clever attraction. You might be wondering who came up with the idea for this. It was a local high school student who was interested in astronomy. He worked with the Anchorage Rotary Club to make it a reality. Cool, huh? You can read more about it here.
Ready to visit?
Anchorage Light Speed Planet Walk
5th Avenue and G Street
Anchorage, AK 99501