Users of the Salt Line in Alsager may have noticed a recent new addition, the Solar System Trail which shows, to scale, the sun and the planets. Starting at the Hassall Green end car park are the sun and Mercury. Mercury is the tiny yellow dot in the blue square.
You need to ride or walk the trail to get the sense of just how vast the solar system is. but the inner planets are all in the car park!
Venus is my favourite, both the evening and the morning star, Hesper and Phosphor.
Sad Hesper o’er the buried sun
And ready, thou, to die with him,
Thou watchest all things ever dim
And dimmer, and a glory done:
The team is loosen’d from the wain,
The boat is drawn upon the shore;
Thou listenest to the closing door,
And life is darken’d in the brain.
Bright Phosphor, fresher for the night,
By thee the world’s great work is heard
Beginning, and the wakeful bird;
Behind thee comes the greater light:
The market boat is on the stream,
And voices hail it from the brink;
Thou hear’st the village hammer clink,
And see’st the moving of the team.
Sweet Hesper-Phosphor, double name
For what is one, the first, the last,
Thou, like my present and my past,
Thy place is changed; thou art the same.
Earth was just on the edge of the car park. In the background you can see Venus.
Mars was over the road, and then there was a long long stretch before Jupiter. Saturn, Uranus and Neptune follow, finishing a good mile and a half from the sun.
It’s the smallness of the earth that is most troubling about the trail, a reminder that this is all we’ve got. You’d think that all our efforts would be directed at preserving this precious little thing rather than rushing to use it up and heat it up. I had better stop this post before I get into full anti-car anti-consumerist anti-growth frothing at the mouth mode.