Updates from Johnson County Community College: Students launch solar system app that’s out of this world!

The Kansas Cosmos project covers the great vastness of the solar system with just a drive across the Sunflower State.

Imagine driving along I-70 across Kansas with a handheld telescope at your disposal. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to know where you are in comparison to the vastness of the solar system?

Students and faculty from JCCC’s Web Development, Graphic Design and Astronomy programs, along with JCCC’s Honors Program and the Kansas Studies Institute, have created such a tool with the Kansas Cosmos project – a web application that maps the solar system to scale across the state of Kansas. It also provides facts about the specific objects orbiting roughly 62 miles above you!

To the stars through difficulties

The collaboration and perseverance of our students and faculty exemplified the Kansas state motto: Ad Astra per Aspera – “to the stars through difficulties.”

The project involved 15 students, five faculty members and was part of the Kansas Studies Institute project-learning courses. The Kansas Studies Institute at JCCC promotes research and teaching of the culture, history, economics and natural environment of Kansas.

JCCC students researched, designed and developed the entire web application, all during the COVID-19 pandemic. As JCCC transitioned to virtual learning, students and teachers had to adjust communication for the project, which spanned several semesters.

“The familiar and friendly faces I have come to know over my computer screen have been key to the success of this project. While we faced many challenges, seeing our hard work come to fruition made it all worth it,” said Maci Branch, JCCC student and project participant.

The solar system takes on the Sunflower State

Modeling the solar system at an accurate scale required a working area as large as the state of Kansas.

Each planet in the solar system was scaled down and represented by actual locations in Kansas. For example, Pluto is located in Goodland, Kansas, at the Colorado border. Johnson County Community College represents the location of the Sun at the opposite end of the state.

“Our model, built to scale, conveys the idea that our universe is vast, and we are tiny. The lesson is not that we are insignificant, but that tiny things are sometimes the most significant,” mused Branch.

Check out the web application to experience this model of the solar system and learn more about our beautiful state along the way!

We offer programs for every interest

JCCC offers a variety of programs and opportunities that align with all types of interests and passions. Students can expand their horizons by studying everything from astronomy to graphic design in online or on-campus classes. Learn more about our credit programs and apply today!