On Saturday May 5, the Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails, the Anne Arundel Community College Astronomy Club, and the Solar System Exploration Division of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center have teamed up to offer a day of public programs focusing on our solar system.

The events will include a Planet Walk on the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail and an illustrated evening presentation on asteroids at Anne Arundel Community College (101 College Pkwy Arnold), followed by a Stargazing Party at the AACC Observatory. Attendance and parking are free for all events.

The events will kick off at 10:00 a.m. with a Planet Walk along a 4.7-mile segment of the B&A Trail between Glen Burnie and Severna Park. This segment of the Trail features two sculptures and eight planet stations representing the Sun and the planets of the Solar System, with a sculptural stainless steel marker spaced at each planet’s proportional distance from the Sun. Between 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., planetary scientists and astronomers from NASA Goddard, area colleges and universities and local astronomy clubs will be at each of the planet stations to provide information and activities concerning that planet as well as to answer questions.

Participants can walk or bicycle the 4.7-mile course between the Sun Sculpture, located just south of Aquahart Road behind Harundale Plaza in Glen Burnie and the Pluto sculpture, located just north of the Earleigh Heights Road Ranger Station in Severna Park. Ample parking is located adjacent to the beginning of the Planet Walk in Glen Burnie. It is recommended that participants start at the Sun Station. This event will be cancelled in the event of heavy rain. For participants seeking a shorter or less time-consuming experience, the six planets between the Sun and Saturn can be visited by traveling in the first 1 1/4 miles of the Planet Walk between Harundale Plaza and Marley Station Mall.

Special evening events are also scheduled at Anne Arundel Community College’s Arnold campus. At 7:30 p.m., an Asteroid Cafe will be presented on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission in the AACC Student Union Dining Hall, located near Parking Lot A.  Dr. Jason Dworkin, Project Scientist for the mission and Director of the Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory at NASA/Goddard, will give a presentation on the mission.  He will be available, with other scientists and engineers, to talk with the audience about the OSIRIS-REx mission and current asteroid research over light refreshments.  The mission was launched in 2016 to travel to the asteroid Bennu, gather a sample of Bennu’s surface materials and return that sample to earth in 2023.

Following the Asteroid Cafe’, beginning at 8:30 p.m., the AACC Astronomy Club will host a Stargazing Party at the College Observatory. The Observatory is located in the back of parking lots A and B, a short walk from the Student Union. Participants will be able to use the Observatory’s telescopes with the assistance of Astronomy Club members or may bring their own telescopes. The Stargazing Party will be cancelled in the event that either overcast conditions or inclement weather obscure the heavens.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofAnneArundelCountyTrails/.

The Tenth Anniversary Planet Walk on May 5 will give participants a chance to gain greater insight into the makeup of our solar system as well as to learn about current ongoing research projects!

Tess Abney is a freelance writer who was born and raised in the Quad Cities. She spends most of her time attempting to successfully raise three boys. In her free time, writing is her passion. Whether it is sharing local events and businesses with readers or sharing her thoughts on life, she finds comfort in the way words can bring people together.