To quote the late, great Douglas Adams, “Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.” It is so huge that in order to wrap our tiny human brains around something like the Solar System, we often represent it in a way that’s not to scale so that it fits nicely in a single image.
With the miles of open space at Black Rock Desert (Nevada) as their canvas, the duo created their to-scale Solar System model with astoundingly beautiful results. They drew out the planet’s orbits with the tracks of a car and placed each heavenly body in their appropriate location with various models and the Earth – most appropriately – with a little blue marble. A fitting analog considering the quote that opens the video:
“As we got farther and farther away it diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine … Seeing this has to change a man” – Apollo 15 Astronaut James Irwin
In order to keep it accurate, seven miles of space in every direction was needed to represent the cosmic distances. What might be most impressive though is the way the scale was compared to the actual sunrise. From that perspective, the balloon representing the Sun appears to be the same size as the real one.
How humbling it is to see just how tiny we are in comparison to our own celestial neighborhood, and how damn lucky we are to be able to appreciate such a thing.