It’s The Only Ride We’ve Got

Joe Crookham took attendees through his vision and plans of the Sun Dome located at the Lacey Complex

Oskaloosa, Iowa – How big is the solar system?

That question and more had led Oskaloosa’s Joe Crookham to build a project at the Lacey Complex that will hopefully help people understand that the Earth is “The Only Ride We’ve Got”, and to help them better appreciate it.

“It’s a project I’ve been thinking about, I hate to say how many years. It’s really been because my passion for this began when I was a child and went with my cousin to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago where they had a solar system laid out.”

“I always thought it would be neat to build one of those things,” added Crookham.

The project is a Solar System walkabout, “Enjoy! Protect! The Planet Earth”, Crookham explained.

“I’ve had, for years, a passion for understanding, recognizing, how the solar system all works together,” said Crookham, who believes that it would be beneficial “for all people on the planet Earth to better understand what it’s all about.”

Tony Rivera, a friend of Joe Crookham’s and a rocket scientist, has been assisting the project along the way.

The display will help people gain an understanding of the distance of the solar system and the universe. A scale representation of the distance it is from planet to planet will take people on a small hike from the dome area, to one of Pluto’s locations on the furthest road within the complex, and maybe a bit further into the nearest cornfield.

If you want to reach Earth’s nearest star other than the Sun, be prepared to take a short stroll to the North Pole according to the scale in place at the Sun Dome. It would take 67,000 years at 40,000 miles per hour, the speed that Voyager has traveled our Solar System. “No lunch breaks.”

“It’s the only ride we’ve got. We’re not going anyplace else,” added Crookham. “We’ve got a planet that we can live on, we need to figure out how to make things work.”

The first four planets all fit within the first 100 feet of the Sun Dome.

At each planet site there will be a video board that will help provide information, and maybe, at some point in the future, be able to ask questions, put down thoughts, to make it as interactive as possible. “[I’d] like to make it, so it’s fun, and anybody that’s curious about it can do things. You don’t have to be a scientist to do that.”

“We want to recognize distance and what it takes to get places,” Crookham added.

“We need to understand this planet Earth we live on and the world in which it exists so that we can increase the chances that we keep this thing usable,” said Crookham during his presentation.

The biggest and most visible marker will be the “Sun Dome” and next to it will be nine other planets that will be in scale size to the Sun itself.

The Sun dome is 86 feet across. “The planet Earth, that great big thing we live on, is about nine inches,” Crookam explained of the scale solar system. “So it’s a pretty small little ride that we’ve got.”

The third thing Crookham hopes to share is a perspective of time that mankind has existed. “So we will have things that are depicting different evolutions of man.”

At this point, Crookham has three things in mind to help others get a perspective of time. The first of those would be a Mercury 7 capsule, and the goal is to build a model that is the exact size of the capsule and will allow a user to get inside the capsule to gain perspective of the constraints of that vehicle which John Glenn used to orbit the Earth.

Another item that could be built to help give visitors a perspective of time may be an old stagecoach. “So people could get in that and see what it would have been like to get in something and ride a long way across the country. They are very small,” added Crookham.

A third display Crookham is considering is a replica of the Mayflower. The main compartment area of that ship which housed 103 people was twenty-five foot at it’s widest, while just fifty foot long. “If you were over five feet tall, you didn’t stand up because the ceiling height was only five feet.

According to Crookham, the passengers of the Mayflower got on the ship in July and landed in the new world the following March. When they landed on Plymouth Rock, half the passengers had died at sea.

“I think having things out there so we can have the sense of time and what mankind has gone through will be interesting,” said Crookham.

“How did we get to where we are now,” is one of those questions to be asked by the display. “What kind of life did we live before this, and how did we understand the complexities of getting to that point.”

“So why is it we can’t get used to the idea we need to take care of the planet Earth? It’s a pretty fragile little ball we’re riding around in. It’s the only ride we’ve got,” Crookham explained. Hopefully, we can get to the place where we can understand what we’ve done over a period of time and how we got there, and appreciate what it is.”

For the students and residents in the area, continued learning is an integral part of the Sun Dome. “Each year, have awards given for the best new idea about how to do things out there,” said Crookham. “New understandings that we can create for people.”

“The hope from such awards would be getting students to think,” says Crookham of the awards.

The work will continue on the Sun Dome project, and according to Crookham, hopefully, the lighting that will allow you to see it coming down Highway 163 as you enter Oskaloosa.

Posted by on Jul 14 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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