Solar System



At the heart of our solar system project, the Sun illuminates the concept of stellar fusion and the critical role it plays in sustaining the celestial dance of planets, offering a radiant gateway to understanding cosmic energy sources.

We'd like to give a special thank you to the REACH Museum.

Hanford REACH Sun Marker


*These are satellite photos sourced from NASA's Flickr Commons and are used for educational and informational purposes.
432,690 Miles in Diameter

What We Know

The Sun is the radiant centerpiece of our solar system, illuminating our days and bringing warmth to our lives. It's a star unlike any other, and its significance goes far beyond simply being a blazing ball of gas in the sky.

For centuries, the Sun has been the object of fascination and study. Ancient civilizations worshiped it as a deity, attributing its life-giving qualities to divine forces. In modern times, we've unraveled many of its mysteries through science and observation.

The Sun's immense gravity holds our solar system together, keeping planets, moons, and asteroids in orbit. Its energy fuels life on Earth through the process of photosynthesis, enabling plants to grow and providing the foundation of the food chain. The Sun's magnetic activity influences our technological infrastructure and can even create mesmerizing displays of auroras in the polar regions.

It's remarkable to think that the Sun, a blistering sphere of hydrogen and helium, can appear so serene from our vantage point on Earth. Its surface, a turbulent sea of hot plasma, constantly churns and releases energy in the form of light and heat. In fact, the sunlight we see on Earth is a result of nuclear fusion reactions deep within the Sun's core, where hydrogen atoms combine to form helium, releasing a tremendous amount of energy in the process.

Although we can never visit the Sun's scorching surface, we owe our existence and our daily experiences to this celestial giant. It's a reminder that while we explore distant corners of the universe, we should never forget to appreciate the extraordinary star that makes our world possible. The Sun, our guiding light, continues to shine brightly in the cosmic expanse, sustaining life and illuminating the depths of space for all to see.

The Reach Museum Sculpture

In 2014, the Tri-Cities skyline was graced with a new landmark! Outside of The REACH Museum stand the Solar Arches, so named for the elegant simplicity of the design and their function as both the centerpiece of the HRSS and a storyteller, telling the story of the predictable patterns of the sun over the course of the year. Each angle and connection point is deliberately designed to align the shadows with a solstice, equinox, or a local noon. Stop by and see if you can discover the patterns for yourself!

As a 40-foot diameter sculpture, it is not only beautiful, but has also hosted classes, weddings, ballet performances, and more. As an outdoor space, it not only promotes learning by its design, but facilitates it by its function. As you travel around the river system in our area, you’ll also notice that the design of the arches is used on each Orbital Marker, denoting the distance a planet might be away from the Sun.

Last updated September 15, 2023. Content written by Trevor Macduff.

Help Complete the Solar System!

Be a crucial part of the creation of the markers for Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Pluto. We're also embarking on the mission to establish multiple markers within each planet's orbit. So, whether you're eager to volunteer your time, resources, or contribute funding, please visit our Donate and Volunteer pages.