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Macclesfield centre of universe: official

UK to host scale model of solar system

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UK boffins are planning to join forces with artists to create a scale "model" of our solar system.

The one to 15 million representation of the planets - called Spaced Out (website under construction) - will place Earth in Macclesfield, Saturn in Lancaster and Halley's Comet in London. Poor old Pluto is destined for Fort William in Scotland, while Uranus will be enjoying the Georgian architecture and hot springs of Bath.

Mercifully for Cheshire's Jodrell Bank Observatory, the heavenly bodies will not themselves be reproduced to scale, but rather as artistic interpretations. Jodrell Bank is to host the Sun, and it's unlikely that our own star would - even at one to 15m - fit comfortably in the carpark. Our own calculations suggest a diameter of 100 metres, which an awful lot of papier mache and orange paint.

Chief project boffin Dr Nigel Marshall said: "It [The project] will unite art, science and technology. The models will be sculptures or artistic representations. For example, we're not expecting the model of the Sun to be a yellow sphere with dots on it - it's going to be rather more interpretation.

"Someone has even suggested that Mars could be an old red sea mine - Mars was the god of war, the mine would be the same colour as the planet and the surface would be rusty iron, just like the surface of Mars."

Spaced Out is due to launch during Science Week 2005 and in the meantime the organisers are looking for funding and educational partners. ®

Bootnote

Yes, we know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, but who can deny Macclesfield its one shining moment of glory? And regarding the diameter of the Sun - that's the best we could do in two with an abacus and the back of a fag packet. Please forward outraged corrections to the relevant authority: in this case Lucy "I went to College" Sherriff. Thankyou.

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