Thursday, October 23, 2014
On Monday I drove up the road and admired the planets hanging neatly: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres (a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt), Jupiter. But where was Saturn? I couldn't find Uranus or Neptune. And Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris (dwarf planets) were all missing too. What was going on?
Yesterday I stopped and looked for them. I found Eris and rehung it, but all the other planets are missing. What could have happened to six planets/dwarf planets? There was no sign of animals disturbing them or the wind blowing them down (it's done that before, and they don't go far). So my best guess is that someone took them down.
Why would someone take down six planets? My hope is that maybe they just wanted to improve them, maybe paint the signs with glow-in-the-dark paint. (But then why didn't they take them all?)
Or is someone trying to put up their own to-scale solar system and they liked this one so much they just couldn't resist? I also thought of some other reasons that someone might have taken six planets, but I hope people aren't that mean.
I don't know where the planets went. They are pretty far out there in the solar system. That was one of the cool things about seeing them on the road, is that you had to keep waiting and waiting to get to the more distant planets. It really made me internalize what a big place our solar system is. I asked an astronomer at last year's Astronomy Festival what would be at the end of the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. He said we would still be in the Oort Cloud, a massive area at the edge of the solar system where comets form. Wow. I am still processing that, it is so far out!
Here's the post about how we put up the initial planets, little facts about them, and the spacing, so if anyone wants to replace them, you know where to put them! Our Little Solar System