The University of York Solar System

Inspired by the solar system trail on the York to Selby cycle route, Astrosoc members Mathew, Thom and Adam wanted to create a scale model of the solar system across the University of York Campus. In early 2016 they were awarded funding from Yufund to make this a reality.

Bringing together expertise from the mechanical workshops on site at the University, and a group of professional prop designers, the 8 planets (and dwarf planet Pluto) were created.

The planets themselves were each individually hand sculpted in clay before being cast in a fibreglass resin and painted. This work was performed by North Yorkshire Props Dept (NYPD) who are based in Scarborough.

Crucial to the success of this project was the crowd funding project that was also run to raise funds


AstroSoc would like to specifically thank the University of York Chemistry Department for their help in funding the project.

Finding the Planets

The Solar System model stretches across both campuses, starting at the Astrocampus on Heslington West and ending with the dwarf planet Pluto at Constantine college on Heslington East.


Making of

After the initial funding had been secured, construction of the planets and plinths could begin. Several designs of plinths were considered, with the concept sketch on the left being chosen. The plinths were built in the mechanical workshops in the Chemistry and Biology departments.



The planets were made in several stages. Firstly, a 40cm blank sphere was created. This was then covered in clay and sculpted to the shape of the desired planet. A cast of this was then taken which was used to create the final planet.






Groundwork started in late September and all the planets were all installed on the 4th November 2016. This coincided perfectly with astronaut Tim Peake’s visit to the University for the Principia Schools Conference on 5th November.






When the cast had been taken, the next planet could be sculpted in the clay. The finished cast planets were then spray painted and airbrushed to add the final details.