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Press Release: Sagan Planet Walk Takes Shape in Ithaca

September 18, 1997

ITHACA, N.Y. --Representatives from the Sciencenter will set in place eight of the 10 pre-cast concrete monoliths on Sept. 18 and 19 for the Sagan Planet Walk.

The Sagan Planet Walk is an outdoor, permanent model of the solar system that stretches from the sun on the Ithaca Commons to Pluto at the Sciencenter three-fourths mile away. It will consist of 10 monoliths, one for each of the nine planets and one for the sun. These monuments are approximately 6 feet high and accurately spaced on a scale of one to five billion.

Designed by local artist Erin Caruth, each planet station will feature high-resolution color spacecraft images of the planet on porcelain-enamel signs. Also, scale models of the planets in scale sun-sized Plexiglas windows will be added to demonstrate the size of the planet in relation to the sun. Physical characteristics of the planets are portrayed by pictographs, and unique features are described in text illustrated by NASA color photographs.

The sun and Pluto stations are polished blue pearl granite monuments with sandblasted images of symbols related to the seasons, stars and planets that can be used by teachers to stimulate school group discussions. These two monoliths will be set in October. The other planet stations will have pre-cast concrete monuments.

The Sagan Planet Walk is named after Carl Sagan, Ph.D. , member of the Sciencenter Advisory Board before his death Dec. 20, 1996, from complications of a bone marrow disease. The astronomer was also a member of the faculty at Cornell University and the recipient of three Emmys, a Peabody Award and the Pulitzer Prize for his work in science. He is most recently recognized as the author of the book, "Contact," which was made into the 1997 movie of the same name.

The dedication ceremony for the Sagan Planet Walk will be held on Sat., November 8, 1997, which is the eve of Dr. Sagan's 63rd birthday. The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. with scheduled speakers Ann Druyan, Dr. Sagan's wife and long-time collaborator, and Bill Nye the Science Guy®, host of a children's science series on Public Broadcasting Service and former student of Dr. Sagan. The sun will be unveiled at noon by Ms. Druyan, and the walk through the planets to the Sciencenter will begin immediately after.