Friday, June 22, 2012



Sheer coincidence that I've been enjoying the news of Voyager I and also researching as many scale model solar systems as I can find! The varying hikes are useful in learning about the size of our solar system, and I happened to complete this project while the first human-made craft escapes it! It's a bit chilling, actually.

To think, scientists in 1977 launched a craft that is now 120 Astronomical Units (AU) away from Earth, at the heliosphere (the vast reach of our Sun's magnetic field). On the other side is interstellar space, a new frontier for human hardware!

Arecibo Trail
Arecibo Trail in Puerto Rico

In light of this accomplishment, I hope some folks put the map of Solar System Hikes to good use this summer. Go forth, find ye a solar system scale model to traverse, and get in thy brain the size of our humble home!

After I published the international hikes, putting the number of solar system models well over 200, I was so gratified to have an inbox full of people telling me which ones they walked already, or shown their children! One person was actually on vacation at the time and thanked me for posting it while he was near one he could find! Good show!

Even more fun were the people who took time to send photographs, or tell me about models I had missed, because some models do not have web pages or space agency sponsors. Many, like the one in Arecibo, are accidentally secret. Until now...

Arecibo Sun
Arecibo Sun

Newly added to the list, thanks to Abel Méndez, is the solar system hike near Puerto Rico's dish... yes, THE dish. This one has signage in both English and Spanish, and could contend for most beautiful scenery (although driving the world record holder through Sweden in the summer is probably also pretty cool!)

Two others emailed pictures of planets from their local walks, and I added these to my Picasa Gallery of Solar System Hikes, so that folks can see many clever ways the planets are created and distributed. Some are done as playgrounds, many as metal or painted orbs, and others as stansions or plaques with scaled artwork.

Solar System Hike Munich Zoo
One sun blocking another in München!

My longtime friend and reader, Manuel in Munich, made it a point to walk the Solar System scale model in the München Zoo, just so he could take some pictures for me. Whatta guy! I was particularly interested in seeing some in Germany, since that company has more than any other: 107. If the map count is correct, over half the solar system scale models in the world are in Germany!

Yet another person who actually initiated and designed a solar system walk in his hometown in central Sweden, and sent me links to a wonderful set of photographs detailing one I had not yet found! I've got quite a collection now, for only having walked ONE of these things. all are welcome, and I hope more people continue to contact me, so we can make the map as comprehensive as possible.

München Solar System Model
Jupiter at the Munich Zoo

Very special thanks to Professor Abel Méndez of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory (University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo), also to IT Consultant Manuel Dornbusch of Brainforce, and to Chairman Kjell Olauson of the Örebro Astronomi cal Association for their wonderful photographs and information.