Explore the Solar System Without Ever Leaving Maine's Famed Route 1
An American businessman recently paid $20 million to head into space, but that doesn’t mean you need to shell out that much to get an out-of-this-world experience. Instead, hop in the car and head to Maine’s northernmost county, Aroostook County, where a giant (albeit to scale) model of the solar system stretches along Route 1 between the towns of Presque Isle and Houlton.
With a distance of 40 miles between the Sun—located on the campus of the University of Maine at Presque Isle—and Pluto—a tiny wooden ball on the side of the Houlton Information Center—the exhibit is the world’s largest complete three-dimensional scale model of the solar system. The scale of the exhibit is 1 to 93 million, with one mile in Aroostook County being equivalent to the 93 million miles between Earth and the Sun in our solar system. Planets and their respective sites were designed and maintained through a true community effort, with participants in the project ranging from Cub Scouts to college professors.
With the sun located just miles from the race course for the 2006 Biathlon Junior World Championships (held in Presque Isle starting January 27 and running through February 3), this attraction is well within reach by car. No space ship necessary. For a map of the solar system or more information, visit The Maine Solar System Model or call coordinator Kevin McCartney at (207) 768-9482.