Ever since I was old enough to read, I've been interested in astronomy. I remember lying on the frontroom floor pouring over the pages of the thick "Volume Encyclopedia" -- the section on Astronomy, facinated by pictures of stars, galexies, and nebulae. That interest has heightened over the years, through the visits of the Mariners, Voyagers, and other probes to our sister planets, and culminating with the release of pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope.
It's difficult to grasp the vast distances involved, even in our relatively insignificant neighborhood of 9+ planets and other objects circling the sun. The Nothwest Iowa Solar System Model is an attempt to provide a tangible illustration of our Solar system using caches for each object with sizes of the sun, planets, and orbits of the planets scaled by some common factor.
What scale facter to use? The orbits of the outer most planets should remain within Northwestern Iowa and the orbit of the inner most planet had to be at least beyond the 500 feet minimum distance from the sun. The sizes of the planets had to be reasonable cache containers --- for the sun and for the gas giants (Jupiter, et al), smaller caches are located next to large existing objects of the appropriate sizes. The magic number chosen for the scale factor was ---- 100 million.
That factor puts the orbit of the NWISSM-Earth (one AU, or Astonomical Unit) at a radius of a bit less than a mile, and the size of the Earth equal to that of a grapefruit. Note that the masses of the NWISSM-objects were not modeled --- just their sizes and orbits.
Time is not scaled either. That means that you can quite easily achieve the equivalent of the speed of light with a brisk jog. The speed of light turns out to be only 3 meters/second (under 7 mph) in the NWISSM.
In order to find the NWISSM-Sol cache, you'll need to figure out the object to which it is attached. The cache is small, log only, bring your own pen. The object is rather large --- 1,400,000,000 meters divided by the magic scale factor. The locations of the caches for the planets will help you tiangulate on NWISSM-Sol's location using their scaled orbits. The NWISSM cache locations are within a band 5% larger than their perigee/apogee (mininum/maximum orbital distances). Or you may have already guessed where NWISSM-Sol might be.
There is a huge amount of interesting information about our sun available on the web. A good place to start is here. For example, the sun contains 99.8% of the mass of the solar system, 70% of it hydrogen which it converts to helium to produce energy at a rate that it will last for another 5 billion years or so.
Links to the caches representing the NWISSM-planets will be posted below as they are developed during this summer.