The one thing that almost all models of outer space get wrong is right there in the name: space. No, it’s not due to a uniform incompetence amongst every individual responsible for these depictions of our grand cosmos. The fact is, it’s impossible to convey the distances between objects in space while simultaneously showing us those objects. If you were to draw a to scale model of the solar system on a piece of loose leaf paper, the planets would have to be invisibly microscopic.
The size of the Earth in relation to, well, everything else in the universe is staggering when put into perspective. When astronauts see the Earth’s horizon inexorably curve into a full sphere as they depart into space, they experience a profound shift in awareness.
Most of us probably won’t be embarking on that skyward ascent any time soon. However, thanks to a group of visionary friends, we can now get a glimpse of the first to scale model of our solar system.
Deep in the dusty expanse of Black Rock Desert, they set up models of the sun, inner, and outer planets miles away from each other to reflect the true scope of their relative distances. Using time-lapse technology, they drove the length of each orbit with a light, allowing the viewer to see the illuminated trajectory of each planet all at once under the desert sky.
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