Springfield Planets Trail

Wednesday, March 20, 2024 - 12:00am to Wednesday, May 1, 2024 - 12:00am

On April 8, 2024, tens of millions of Americans will share one of the universe’s most spectacular events: a total eclipse of the sun by the moon. While all 50 states will experience a partial eclipse, only the 115-mile-wide path of totality will see the moon completely block the sun.

To celebrate this special occasion, our partner Dr. Dan Fleisch, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physics at Wittenberg University, created Springfield Planet Walk for our community. This scale model of the Solar System is constructed on a scale of approximately 1.5 billion to one. On this scale, the 865,000-mile diameter of the Sun is reduced to 3 feet, and the planets range in size from 3.5 inches for Jupiter down to 1.6 millimeters for Pluto. The 93 million-mile distance from the Sun to the Earth (called one Astronomical Unit) is reduced to 322 feet, so the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) all fit inside The Steemer or within the Football Stadium. To get to the outer planets of our Solar System, you’ll have to travel a bit farther. As shown on this map, you can find Jupiter at Weaver Observatory on Wittenberg campus, Saturn at the Springfield Museum of Art, Uranus at the Clark County Main Library, and Neptune (as well as the dwarf planet Pluto) at the Westcott House. In round numbers, the walking distance from the Sun is about 500 feet for the inner solar system, 1700 feet to Jupiter, half a mile to Saturn, a bit over one mile to Uranus, and two miles to Neptune and Pluto.



About Dr. Dan Fleisch:  Dan Fleisch is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physics at Wittenberg University, where he specializes in electromagnetics and space physics.  He is the author of the internationally best-selling book A Student’s Guide to Maxwell’s Equations, published by Cambridge University Press in January 2008 and translated into Japanese, Korean, Italian, and Chinese.  Dr. Fleisch is also the author of A Student’s Guide to Vectors and Tensors, published by Cambridge Press in 2011, co-author of A Student’s Guide to the Mathematics of Astronomy, published in 2013, and A Student’s Guide to Waves, published in 2015, and author of A Student's Guide to the Schrödinger Equation, published in 2020, and A Student's Guide to Laplace Transforms, published in 2022.  Dr. Fleisch is also the co-author with the late Prof. John Kraus of The Ohio State University of the McGraw-Hill textbook Electromagnetics with Applications.  Prof. Fleisch was named Series Editor for the Student's Guide Series at Cambridge University Press in 2018. Prof. Fleisch has published technical articles in the IEEE Transactions, The Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics, and Microwave Journal, and has presented more than a dozen professional papers on topics related to high-speed microwave instrumentation and radar cross-section measurement. He has been a regular contributor of science commentary to PBS station WYSO of Yellow Springs, and in 2006 he appeared in the documentary "The Dayton Codebreakers" shown on Public Television. In 2009 he was the first U.S. citizen to receive an Arthur Award from Stuart McLean of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Prof. Fleisch was named Outstanding Faculty Member at the Wittenberg Greek scholarship awards in 2000, and in 2002 he won the Omicron Delta Kappa award for Excellence in Teaching.  In 2003 and 2005 he was recognized for Faculty Excellence and Innovation by the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE), and in 2004 he received Wittenberg’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the university’s highest faculty award. In November of 2010 Prof. Fleisch was named the Ohio Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, and in August of 2013 Prof. Fleisch was named one of the Top 25 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Professors in Ohio. In 2022, Prof. Fleisch was selected to serve as the Grand Canyon Astronomer in Residence for six weeks.  During his Residency, Prof. Fleisch gave 21 presentations on different astronomical topics, each followed by an observing session consisting of a night-sky tour as well as electronically assisted telescopic observing.  Through his presentations, observing sessions, and other activities, Prof. Fleisch reached over 3,000 Park visitors during his Residency.  Prof. Fleisch was invited back to the Grand Canyon in August of 2023 to hold a series of daytime solar observing sessions and evening presentations; during this 2.5-week visit he reached over 4,000 Park visitors. In 2023, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) honored Prof. Fleisch’s teaching, writing, and outreach efforts by naming a main-belt asteroid (17037) Danfleisch. Prof. Fleisch received his B.S. in Physics from Georgetown University in 1974 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Space Physics and Astronomy from Rice University in 1976 and 1980, respectively.


GET READY TO CELEBRATE THE TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE! Click on the images below to view the limited edition products created for this occasion. Proceeds directly support the Westcott House!

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HOSTING FAMILY IN TOWN FOR THE SOLAR ECLIPSE? Consider our tours as a great activity for your guests - we will offer guided tours on the weekend, the day of the solar eclipse, and the days following the eclipse. Advanced reservations strongly encouraged as we expect to sell out! Follow this link to check out our tour schedule.


Questions? Email info@westcotthouse.org.

Our Total Solar Eclipse activities are supported by the Simons Foundation and the Association of Science and Technology Centers.