On November 15th 2009, the McCarthy Observatory Scale Solar System was installed at 12 locations across New Milford. This wonderful “true scale” system was dedicated on November 14th at the Observatory, with featured speaker Dr. Heidi Hammel, planetary scientist speaking and providing her insight on the outstanding value a model of this nature has to the educational experience. She explained that the only way to truly grasp the immensity and emptiness of space is to explore on your own.

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This scale system offers the entire community, young and old, student, parent or anyone else, the opportunity to wander through the entire solar system, all the way out to very edge way beyond the planets, learing as they go, taking rubbings in their passport books (avaialble at the town library) from the 13 emblems in the book , doing creative things with the challenges contained in the book, and getting the passport stamped at the town library when completed.

We encourage groups to tour, take photos, enjoy seeing the bronze and brass objects, learn about the uniqueness of each object they encounter, and tell their friends about it. Think of the vast distances between objects, and think of what the real distances are amongst the wonderful objects in the place where earth lives. Remember as you travel that each object is the correct size, and correct distance from the sun based on the model sun being six feet in diameter.

Have fun – when you are experienced, invite groups of friends and you can be the “expert guide” through the solar system!

When you have completed your tour of the McCarthy Observatory Solar System, we very highly recommend that explorers continue their journey via a wonderful National Geographic tour, which includes great simulations and detailed tours of individual planets. This will help those who are doing the fun exercises in your Passport Book, and will show you many exciting new things in our place in the Universe. Just go to http://www.nationalgeographic.com and then search for solar system and click on the first video link.