A solar eclipse can now be viewed in a downtown parking lot

  • This sign is part of the solar system walk on South Main Street in Concord. Kramer has installed signs along the orbits at places where you can see the dome, giving an idea of what the sun would look like from the actual planetary orbit. Robert Kramer / Courtesy

  • Latest sign as part of the solar system walk, on South Main St. in Concor. Robert Kramer—Courtesy

  • A miniature moon placed near Ledyard Bank on South Main Street uses the State House dome to simulate a solar eclipse. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • The moon on South Main Street to help map the solar system on Friday, May 14, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • When you line yourself up just right behind the small moon object in the Ledyard Bank parking lot, you can recreate the science behind a solar eclipse, assuming of course that the state house dome is the sun.

  • The State House dome in downtown Concord. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The State House dome in downtown Concord. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 5/16/2021 8:00:17 PM

There’s something new in a parking lot on South Main Street. It’s a moon; specifically, our moon.

“It works quite well, I think, that post with the moon on it. It really lets you see what happens … in an eclipse,” said Rob Kramer, who got permission to put up the tiny (1-inch diameter) celestial object at the Ledyard Bank at 74 S. Main St.

Stand alongside the explanatory sign that Kramer installed 9 feet away and look at this moon. You’ll see the State House dome behind it. If you’re in just the right spot the little moon will exactly cover the big dome, just as the moon will exactly cover the sun as seen from northern New Hampshire in three years during a solar eclipse.

Kramer designed it that way using the ratio between the size of the State House dome and the size of the sun (140 million to one).

Kramer is an anesthesiologist who has worked at Concord Hospital for a quarter-century. He has presented many science talks and projects at area schools and led the science club at Bow Middle School for years.

The eclipse installation is part of the unusual, perhaps unique, “planet walk” that he has installed in Concord and surrounding towns.

Such walks, common at science museums, space out scale models of planets in a line that extends yards, blocks or even miles, depending on the scale. People walk along it to get a better feel of how incredibly empty space can be and why it will take astronauts at least 18 months to get to Mars.

Kramer’s walk is different because it doesn’t have what he calls “false syzygy,” the astronomical term for planetary alignment.

Planets don’t line up in reality so his walk doesn’t line them up – instead, he presents the entire orbit for everybody from Mercury to Earth to the asteroids to Neptune (sorry, Pluto). Because of the scale, that puts the outer planets well beyond the city border, as far away as Mount Kearsarge. If you really want to walk those orbits you’d better put aside a few days.

Kramer has installed signs along the orbits at places where you can see the State House dome, giving an idea of what the sun would look like from the actual planetary orbit.

“Overall I’m very happy at how they have lasted through the winter. I had to replace a few signs, but not many,” he said.

His project, including the location of his signs, is described online and in brochures he has dropped off at some area stores and restaurants. Once the capital building opens up, he’ll have them there, as well.

Kramer also hopes to get some drone video footage shot, partly so that you can see what the State House “sun” looks like from the furthest orbits, where he doesn’t have an on-the-ground viewing spot.

Kramer’s website is called Wander The Play (wandertheplay.com) because he has written a play featuring four teens, parodies of popular songs, planets personified and astronomical facts amid jokes and puns. With the planetary walk done, that’s his real focus.

“I’m trying to get the play on stage. I’m writing to different schools to see if they to put it on,” he said.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)



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