PLANETS ON THE PATH  •  ADLER PLANETARIUM

What if you could walk the Solar System at the speed of light?

It turns out, you can. Chicago's lakefront was the perfect place to install a to-scale model of our Solar System, where walking at 3.5 miles an hour is equivalent to moving through space at the speed of light.

As the lead designer on this collaboration with the Chicago Park District, I created 17 markers (one for each of the inner planets and 2—going north and south—for each of the outer objects) with bright illustrations and snappy facts to surprise and delight path-users in the summer of 2015.

THE MARKERS

Designed to fit a custom,
bent-metal frame, each of the markers were printed on a weatherproof canvas with a side zipper for easy installation. Each had a front and back, which indicated how many feet until the next planet or object.

PLANET ILLUSTRATIONS

For this exhibit, I illustrated a set of realistic-ish planets — they're flat cartoons, but they have been astronomer-approved. Details like the proportion of ring-to-planet were important to get right.

At the time these were made, New Horizons was still on its way to Pluto. We had to make an educated guess as to what the dwarf-planet looked like!

DIGITAL ASSETS

The exhibit was largely promoted on social media—I designed a downloadable map to help guide visitors to the markers, and a series of Facebook posts used to promote selfie and trivia challenges.

GUEST PASSES

While most of the promotion of Planets on the Path came through social media, I did make some guest passes to hand out as contest prizes.

 

Copyright © Melissa Szwan 2016

melissaszwan@gmail.com