The University of York Solar System

Bring the planets down to Earth!

  • £2,334

    pledged of £5,000

    • 48


    • 0


This project received pledges on Fri 14 Oct 2016

We are the University of York Astronomy Society and we want to raise £5,000 to help us build a scale model of the solar system across the University of York Campus! 

As a society we are passionate about astronomy, and our aim is to create something that everyone can share in - an installation with genuine beauty and artistic merit that will be a solid and permanent addition to the artwork already in place at the University.

The models will feature all eight planets, a dwarf planet (lovely Pluto!) and the Sun, placed at scaled intervals reflecting their real positions, in prominent sites on the University grounds, both Campus west and east.

This will unite the main sites at the University, encouraging and inspiring staff, students and the wider community to get involved with Astronomy – particularly activities at the Astrocampus - and to explore the campus grounds!  

For those of you who don't know Astrocampus at York already helps bring the mysteries of space closer to home, and our solar system aims to take that a step further by bringing these planets down to earth! You can find out more about Astrocampus on their website

Each planet will be designed and sculpted by a dedicated team of artists, experts in their field. They will be set upon plinths, made from durable steel, each featuring a plaque outlining key facts about each of the planets. Manufacture of the plinths will will take advantage of the expertise and equipment in the Department of Chemistry workshops.

We will produce a dedicated website for the project, with more in depth information about each planet and links to related media.

Why we need your support

We are a small society with minimal funding - our annual income is a tiny fraction of the necessary moneys needed to build the amazing models - so we need your help to achieve our goals!
We already have some of funding needed and this money is already being spent buying materials and manufacturing the plinths but it's just not enough. By reaching our minimum target on YuStart, our artists will be able to commence work on building the planets themselves. They have already begun creating a prototype proof of concept for the planet Mercury, which you can see below!

By reaching the full target we will be able to create all of the planets including the centrepiece of our project, a sundial representing the sun that will be positioned pride of place at the Astrocampus.

If we're lucky enough to go beyond our target, the funds will be spent on promotional materials, a website and printed maps to distribute to visitors and to make sure everyone has access to the planets!  It will be a fantastic  addition to York's facilities which are open to groups and individuals throughout the year and already home to a range of fun and engaging astronomy and space-science based activities

Our cost break down:

·         Materials for Plinths: £2,000
·         Material and manufacture of planets: £3,000
·         Information plaques: £450
·         Production costs of plinths: £2,000 
·         Manufacture of Sun model: £1,000
·         Printing costs (200 copies): £100

Everyone who donates will receive an awesome reward : From signed artwork and bespoke thank yous through to having an entire planet dedicated to you! Make sure you check out what's on offer.

Get in touch and keep up to date!

You will be able to find regular updates on everything that we'll be doing over the coming months on our Facebook and Twitter accounts!

Please don't hesitate to get in touch!

How else can you help us?!

Even if you can't donate money, you can help us in many other ways! 

Please share this project with anyone you think would support us – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, in a chat over the fence or on your blog. In fact, share it with everyone you know as we think it's a great idea, and the more people who know about it, the more likely we are to make this work out brilliantly!
And we know we said you don't need to give money to help us, but we'd love it if you did!

Please sponsor us and help make this happen.   Thank you so much.

9 months ago

Hi everyone!

This is just another quick update to tide you over as the final installation date gets nearer! We headed over to North Yorkshire Props Department in Scarborough this weekend to catch up with the wonderful team who have been put so much hard work into building the planets for us over the last few months.

They are now halfway through painting the planets and we thought we'd share a picture of Earth midway through the process, just so you can get a bit of how the final models will look!

9 months, 1 week ago

Hi all!

Now that the YuStart campaign is over, we just wanted to say a huge thank you to every single one of you that has donated, shared the page or helped us along the way so far. It's really bowled us over the response that we've had - so thank you!

The ground work for the plinths is now in full swing - the picture below might not seem like much at first glance, but it was very exciting for us! This is the very first work being done to install the footings for the planets on campus, this being the site of Jupiter just outside the Physics department and YUSU. After many months of planning, design and manufacture it's exciting to see things really start to take shape!

Last week 

Similarly, the wonderful Mark Bentley has finished making all the parts for the plinths and they have now moved over to the physics workshops to be anodised. Here is a little snap of his fantastic work!

The soft opening of the model is scheduled for the first weekend in November, with an official opening party happening two weeks later - so we will be in touch with you all in due course to invite you to that, as well as to thank you personally for your help - and to organise sending out your rewards! 


9 months, 2 weeks ago

Hi all!

A quick update on our project as we head towards the end of the crowdfunding campaign!

Our planets are now all sculpted, cast and ready to be painted! Below is the mould of planet Earth last week, almost ready to be cast!

And below is a close up of the north pole of Dwarf Planet Pluto (before painting!), which will be the furthest body on our solar system model, sitting in Constantine college in Campus East! 

Over the next week, the planets will all receive a coat of paint (many coats of paint!) before being transported to York where they will be installed onto the plinths, which are currently having their finishing touches in the workshops!

The final step before installation will be to etch the plaques with details of each planet, as well as our kind donors - a process that will take place late next week! 

The planets will then be ready for installation across campus in the final week of October! At the same time we will be printing up flyers and maps and readying a website - all in time for the grand opening of the University of York Solar System on Sunday 6th November!

We'll be updating with further sneak peaks of the planets as everything comes together over the coming weeks, as well as more details on the grand opening itself! 

Thank you again to everyone who has donated and helped us get to where we are so far on this project - everyone has put so much into this and we're incredibly grateful!

Three weeks to go!!



10 months, 1 week ago

Hello lovely people!

Our production on the University of York Solar System continues with vigour, with the manufacture of the plinths nearing completion thanks to sterling efforts from our friend Mark Bentley in the Biology workshops!

Below are a couple of pictures of the pieces, coming together nicely!

And just so you can get an idea of how it all fits together, here is the schematic diagram of the final design!

Aside from this, we're now working on the grand opening of the project, slated for the first weekend in November - which means that we will have all the planets installed at the end of October!

More updates to follow!


10 months, 2 weeks ago

Hi all!

So we're now well into our production schedule on the Solar System Model! Manufacturing is taking place at two separate sites, with the awesome folks in the Chemistry Dept workshops putting together the stainless steel plinths. At the same time we've got a fabulous team of artists over in Scarborough sculpting the planets themselves!

Below is a photo of Planet Earth in its early stages of manufacturing. The two hemispheres of the planet have come together and are attached to the stainless steel column at the bottom. After this, the sculptor will spend countless hours hand sculpting the continents onto the surface before it is and shipped over to York ready for installation on campus!

We'll add more updates and photos over the coming weeks to show in more detail the steps involved in sculpting the planets! We've also had discussions with the University of York groundsmen on the final positions for the planets, so we'll send out an updated map soon! 

Thanks to ALL who have donated so far, we are incredibly grateful for your help and we can't wait to meet you all when the model is installed on campus!

Astrosoc York

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