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August 28, 2014 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Say you find yourself at Stockholm's Globe Arena (the largest hemispherical building in the world) and don't feel like taking in a show. No problem -- just find Götgatan and head north. You'll come to the Stockholm City Museum. Look for a short pillar with an orb atop it. That's Mercury. You just walked one twenty-millionth of the distance from the Sun's corona to its first planet, and started your tour of the Sweden Solar System.

The SSS stretches most of the length of Sweden, from a plate representing the termination shock (which is where the solar wind slows to subsonic speeds) at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics above the Arctic Circle to the Swift-Tuttle comet at Kreativum in Karlshamn in the south.

(via kottke)
((previous discussion of such models on MetaFilter))
posted by Etrigan (11 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
As an astronomer I'm supposed to know this stuff, but I did this one (page obviously outdated) and the distance between the outer planets is just stupid. You start off at the beginning and they're coming all the time and then you are just into those hours of driving between them.

If it wasn't so dull out there I'd say you'd have to do it to get the sense of scale.

(Well I say dull, there was that time I braked for what I thought was a cat and it was the cutest koala...)
posted by edd at 12:07 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


There's a Planetenweg on the Uetliberg mountain next to Zurich. I walked past Pluto the other day. Couldn't help feeling sorry for him.
posted by effbot at 12:13 PM on August 28


Peoria Solar System, 40 miles from the sun to Pluto. (scale 99,000,000:1)

The planets used to be in much more random places, like car dealerships and intersections, but now they're mostly on a recreational trail or at other museums and libraries.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:48 PM on August 28


Ha! Boyfriend and I just flew into Stockholm this afternoon. Things have been a bit hectic these days so unfortunately we haven't done our travel research and have been just winging it. Turns out that we are staying very, very close to Mercury. All night I've been wondering what the giant dome is, and literally was about to search it online after browsing metafilter. And now I know. You MeFi people are just amazing.

Our town, York, has a little ~6 mile path you can take that is also a solar system model...one of our fave things to do is to cycle the planets. You have no idea how giddy we are to be so close to the world's biggest sun! Thanks again for this extremely apropost!
posted by iamkimiam at 12:57 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


My town hosts two planetary models.

The low-key campus version, The Planet Stroll, begins at the Capitol and zooms up the landmark Bascom Hill, using a 4-million to 1 scale.

The more official Dane County version is called Planet Trek* Dane County. It's totally on bike paths, and since we have quite a lot of them, it reminds the quester that planets don't in fact line up in a neat row. It uses a 200-million to 1 scale.

* Trek Bicycles is a successful newer Wisconsin business; the name is not a coincidence.
posted by Jesse the K at 4:11 PM on August 28


Favorited for planning of motorcycle tour of Sweden/the solar system.
posted by calamari kid at 6:09 PM on August 28


My home (though not current) town hosts the largest of this sort of model. I've never been to the alpha centauri obelisk, unfortunately. The solar system is a nice walk though, at least in summer.
posted by contrarian at 7:31 PM on August 28


Cool. Scale models of the solar system, where both the planets and the distances between them are on the same scale, are hard to build. Seattle did one in 1997 or so, with a little puzzle contest where you could gather clues from each planet and the Sun. I still remember the sizes and locations:

Sun: A 25' diameter banner hung over the Pacific Science Center
Mercury: A quarter-inch marble at the Space Needle
Venus: Half-inch marble at Key Arena
Earth: Half-inch marble at King 5 TV
Mars: Half-inch marble at Westlake Center
Jupiter: 3-foot globe at the Fremont Troll
Saturn: 3-foot globe with rings at South Seattle Community College
Uranus: Virtual 2' globe on the Microsoft website in Redmond
Neptune: 2-foot globe at Lynnwood Mall
Pluto: Quarter-inch marble at the Tacoma Dome

(this was back when Pluto was a planet)

The vastness of the Solar System is staggering when you see that Neptune is a 2' sphere up at Lynnwood Mall. The inner solar system, Mercury Venus Earth Mars, seemed intimate and cozy in this perspective. The planets were tiny little marbles around the 25' Sun, but still, we're all right there together in downtown Seattle, nice and warm. Jupiter up at the Troll seemed like it was close enough to still be involved with us inner-Solar-System rocky planets, but a bit aloof, just keeping watch and protecting us from the odd stray asteroid or comet. The other planets, my God: SSCC? Lynnwood Mall?? Tacoma??? That is _far_.
posted by kadonoishi at 8:21 PM on August 28


The local University has an Astronomy walk and while the solar system part of the model isn't all that huge they've placed markers for Proxima Centauri off campus and distance and direction scale markers for the local group of galaxies on satellite campus around the interior.
posted by Mitheral at 12:08 PM on August 29


For those who skipped over contrarian's link, there's something in there that gives you an idea of the sheer vastness of interstellar distances. The link is about the Sagan Planet Walk in Ithaca, New York. It's on a much smaller scale than the Swedish one described in the FPP. It features a pleasant walk of about three-quarters of a mile from the Sun to Pluto.

The Sagan Planet Walk was recently expanded with a representation of Alpha Centauri, the nearest star visible to the naked eye after our own Sun.

The station representing Alpha Centauri — at a distance according to the same scale used for the rest of the Sagan Planet Walk — is in Hawaii.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:00 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


We found Mercury! Thank you so much, Etrigan. We wouldn't have even known about it if it wasn't for your post and the discovery has made our trip that much more special.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:36 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


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