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Ogden Valley gets its own 13-mile walkable solar system

By Deborah Wilber - | Sep 23, 2022
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A metal sculpture representing the sun is pictured outside the Huntsville Astronomic and Lunar Observatory and Compass Rose Lodge.
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Signage for stops along the Ogden Valley Planet Tour were designed by local graphic artists and researched by local students.
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Sculpted planet renderings sit on display at the Huntsville Astronomic and Lunar Observatory awaiting poles before they can be placed in their designated locations throughout the Ogden Valley.
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Signage for stops along the Ogden Valley Planet Tour were designed by local graphic artists and researched by local students.

HUNTSVILLE — The Ogden Valley Planet Tour is set to open from 5-6 p.m. Saturday at Huntsville Park. A celebration concert featuring Bonneville and Weber high school orchestras as well as local valley choral group the Chordettes will include space-themed music and a new symphonic work by Alfonso Tenreiro.

As part of a collaborative project with Valley Elementary and Snowcrest Middle School science classes, the Huntsville Astronomic and Lunar Observatory, or HALO, and Mountain Arts and Music, sculpted planetary renderings by Mary Hardy and Steven Thompson will be placed along the Pineview bike path from Huntsville to Eden then north into Liberty.

The Planet Tour tour begins with the sun, located at the HALO grounds inside the Compass Rose Lodge, and ends with Pluto at the south gate of North Fork Park.

While scaled down significantly, the art pieces give the public an approximation of the distances between all the planets in the solar system and their sizes relative to the sun, said MAM Program Manager Trish Painter.

HALO Director Dakota Hyde, who designed and built the observatory, approached MAM about partnering with them to create a solar system project in 2020. One year after his parents opened the Compass Rose in downtown Huntsville, Hyde came up with the idea for a solar system garden to bring more amenities to the community.

Originally envisioned as a small scale feature on HALO property, Hyde later decided he wanted to provide a meaningful connection to other dark sky locations in the valley such as North Fork Park.

In portraying orbital distances and relative scaling, Hyde said his hometown’s 13-mile solar system is unique.

“Our community has always been a gateway to experience the night sky away from light pollution,” he said.

While Painter applied for a R.A.M.P Grant from Weber County and started enlisting local artists to design the sun sculpture, measuring 14 feet in diameter, and local graphic artists to design signs, kids from valley schools began researching fun facts on planets to be used in the project.

Every sign will provide information and statistics on the respective planets. All planets will eventually be placed atop a pole at their locations. Come Saturday’s introduction ceremony, however, planets will be displayed onsite as they await the poles, which have been ordered, bringing the total cost of the Planet Tour project to approximately $6,000.

Painter said as a nonprofit organization supporting the creative arts, MAM was delighted to partner with HALO to create a composite community event.

Getting people involved in creative art workshops and events in the valley is what MAM is all about, Painter said.

On behalf of HALO and the Compass Rose Hotel, Hyde is inviting all members of the public to join them in a fun and informative celebration of the solar system.

In addition to live music, food trucks and activities, Hyde is holding a Star Party at Compass Rose at the end of the night. For those interested in getting a closer look at the night sky in all it’s glory, Hyde and his staff will have telescopes set up.

“There are pretty good views of Saturn and Jupiter right now,” Hyde said.


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