Proposal to the Town of Silver City

The NF Observatory, in conjunction with area educators and Phelps Dodge Mining Company, would like to propose a one-of-a-kind project that will unite local businesses, artists and the town of Silver City for the benefit of our young students - a sidewalk solar system.

Our solar system will be accurately scaled, both in distance from the sun and actual diameter. Students will start with the sun on the corner of Swan St. and 32nd. It will be represented by a copper disk approximately 1 1/2 feet in diameter. Walking along Swan St., students will discover, in sequence, scaled models of the nine planet. As they locate each plaque, they will look down and see a small sphere representing the scaled diameter of the planet. Viewers will also find the diameter of the planet and the distance to the sun written on the face of the plaque. In addition, both the Greek symbol for the planet and the Roman god the planet was named for will be included (please see attached paper version). As the students continue down Swan St., their interest will quickly turn to incredulity as the awesome size of our Solar System becomes apparent, and finally they will reach tiny Pluto, 1.2 miles from the Sun. The final plaque, Pluto, will also have the actual and scaled distances to the closest star (8000 miles to our scale) and our nearest sister galaxy (6 billion miles to our scale). Our intention is to give students a basic understanding of spatial quantities in a fun, non-abstract way.

The planet walk will begin on the corner of Swan St. and 32nd, and finish near Swan and 12th (please see attached map). The plaques will be made from Phelps Dodge copper, cast by Bill Neely, then imbedded into Swan Street's sidewalk, flush with the ground, at measured locations.

To make this unique educational project happen, the town of Silver City would only have to approve the project. Tom Turner, the San Man, has volunteered to cut the holes in the sidewalks (9"x12" for the planets and 18"x18" for the Sun). The NFO Staff will cement the plaques in, flush with the sidewalk.

A web site has been established at, explaining what we hope to create, and several distant schools have already expressed interest in our project. One school in particular, Fremont Elementary in San Diego, is interested in creating a sidewalk solar system of their own, modeled after our proposed site. We hope Silver City will be known as home to the original planet walk, and that many other schools, via the Internet, will follow our example. We are eager to begin this project and know it will host many awe-inspiring field trips, as well as help students and adults alike to realize the incredible dimensions of our Solar System and Universe.

Dr. A. William Neely, Director, NF Observatory

Dr. Elna Stowe, Superintendent, Silver Schools

Dr. Harrell Holder, Superintendent, Cobre schools

Tom Schnalzer, Principal, Jose Barrios Elementary

Alan Ramirez, Principal, 6th St. Elementary

Travis Columbus, Principal, Harrison Schmitt Elementry

Tom Sweitzer, Principal, La Plata Middle School

Dr. William Soules, Principal, Snell Middle School

John Lathrop, Principal, G.W. Stout Elementry

Regina Moore, Designer, Phsysical Science 485, WNMU