Yesterday, Saturday October 10th, saw the Great Kendal Solar System Scale Model arrive at Kendal Castle. Between 200-250 members of the public (plus assorted dog walkers) came up to see the event. There was a family from Nottingham weekending in the town, who heard about it and popped along, and people from Windermere who came along especially to see it. But what did they see?
Stuart Atkinson, the organiser, had worked out beforehand the distances required to fit a model of the solar system into the grounds of Kendal Castle. The inner planets, the asteroid belt (represented by Vest and Ceres) and all the distance up to Jupiter fitted from one end of the inner walls of the castle right up to the front gate. From there, Saturn, the current position of the New Horizons probe to Pluto, Uranus, Neptune and the dwarf planet itself were lined along the path to the gate. An unexpected drop even meant Pluto’s larger than average inclination seemed to be represented.
Doug Ellison of the Unmanned Spaceflight Forum agreed to help Stu and created scale models of the planets to be pin mounted, the pins placed in bamboo canes and the canes, flying flag like information sheets, placed at those points marked out. In an emergency, the pike like implements can also be used to quieten any opposition we get.
The people representing the planets lined up kind of like this:
- Sun + Mercury – Doug Ellison and Helen
- Venus – Stella Coxon
- Earth – Anna Hall
- Mars – Stuart Atkinson
- Ceres and Vesta – Chris Darwin plus two EAS members who turned up
- Jupiter – Graham Fell
- Saturn – Mary Jane Lyal and Garry Vernon
- Uranus – Colin Taylor and David Clark
- Neptune – Ian Bradly and Liz Hodgson
- Pluto – Me and Dave Womack
Helpers like me had to stand by our posts and impart facts to the various people who wandered along the route. Many already knew about the planet walk from various radio stations as well as mentions in the Westmorland Gazette, however others merely happened on the model as they walked the castle with or without their dogs. As it happened, both the model sun and the actual Sun lay in roughly the same direction looking from where we were.
They were greeted by me, Dave, a soft toy (Pluto the dog) and our cane representing the outermost body Pluto. Those who had braved that then continued up the path, occasionally passing Neptune, Uranus, New Horizons and Saturn before arriving at the castle gates.
Some people had brought information leaflets to hand out to the passing hordes, as well as the occasional chair, Graham Fell used his castle gate position to set up an entire stall of paraphernalia. And this was just an intimation of what was inside.
Having passed through the well distanced outer planets, people arrived at the castle to find a very well populated inner solar system, with asteroids and terrestrial planets a plenty, all crammed within the walls. At the very end, Doug had his own take home leaflets and solar system scale postcards to give away.
The event was a great time to popularise the Eddington Astronomical Society as well as point every towards the Our Amazing Universe exhibition at Kendal Museum, not to mention a boon for the International Year of Astronomy, 2009 and a good day out for all involved. It didn’t even rain, though we had some atmospheric mists.
And for the future? In his write-up, Stuart Atkinson suggests the model may well be back again next year.