Chelan — Pluto and Ceres made the cut in Chelan Rotary’s newly installed Planet Walk, a permanent 1.5-mile scale model of the solar system.
Rotarians completed the installation July 27. It has 11 information stations along Riverwalk Park trail, each with a QR scan that links to additional information.
“Similar projects have been done elsewhere so it isn’t an original concept, but it is something I have wanted to do here for years,” said Rotarian Russ Jones. “The concept is to help people learn some of the basics of our solar system and gain some perspective of the immensity of things.”
The scaled down 18-inch sun starting point for the walk is located at the “old” bridge on Woodin Avenue and the solar system ends with Pluto (Kuiper belt) a half-mile down the Reach Trail in the Chelan River gorge.
“If we included the next closest star, the station would be in the Ukraine,” he said.
The project cost about $15,000, with funding split between Chelan Rotary Club and a matching grant from the Rotary District.
Installation started in mid-May and came with some hoops and challenges.
A permit from Chelan County PUD originally was rejected and required some additional explanation for the application to be approved.
The biggest challenge, though, was making sure the information and scale were correct.
“We had the data reviewed by our members, artists and about 60 astronomers,” he said.
Some debate ensued about which celestial bodies to feature.
“Everyone wanted to know if Pluto would be included,” he said. “We included both Pluto and Ceres as dwarf planets.”
The reaction so far has been positive.
“While we were installing the stations, public response was ecstatic,” Jones said.
Chelan Rotary’s other projects around town include metal goats at the East entrance, the friendship park at the intersection of Johnson and Columbia, improvement of Pingry Park and a host of smaller projects.
Next up, Jones said, is a mural.
“The club is working on a very large mural on the hillside on Woodin Avenue across from the Forest Service office. I believe this is a $60,000 project slated for completion this fall.”