Sunday, June 28, 2009

Planet Trek

Today, on one of the windiest days lately, we took off on a voyage of the solar system. We traveled through space faster than the speed of light.

Impossible you say? Not so in Dane County. Celebrating the International Year of Astronomy there is a scale model solar system placed along local bike trails. Planet Trek is in place until October 2009. It is unfortunate that it is temporary because the boys had a blast riding and seeing the planets. The scale is approximately 200 million to 1 and at that scale each planet sign gives a real life equivalent size, like Pluto is like a marble, and Earth is a medium apple. It takes 410 minutes for light to reach Pluto from the sun. Our trip took only 110 minutes and we logged almost 25 miles. Pluto is located across from the DNR bike shelter in Mount Horeb, and the sun is at the Monona Terrace.

Passing Verona the wind turned from our backs to our faces for a short bit, and we apparently passed Uranus without a sign in place. About that same time we were stopped by a DNR ranger checking trail passes, but I didn't really want to ask where Uranus was thinking maybe we hadn't gotten there yet. Chad talked his way out of a fine since I forgot my trail pass and we hadn't gone back home for it. Chad keeps pictures of the passes on his phone and proof of ownership in picture form is enough to pass, but his camera memory card was not reading and the image could not be found. The ranger let us pass after minutes of searching through pictures on the phone. Next to the sun was planted a ring of flowers symbolizing the scale size and a woman tending the flowers told us one of the signs had been stolen. So we didn't miss Uranus during the high winds or interrogation, it was missing from the lineup all along.
The ring of flowers shown above is 24 feet in diameter. Our trip was one way, so we ended shortly after seeing the sun. Chad had driven the Jeep in to downtown Madison earlier in the day and struggled home with a constant headwind on his single bike. The boys liked the ride and we would recommend the trip in the direction of Pluto to the Sun since the bike trail is mostly downhill or flat. This almost 25 mile bike ride is the longest yet for the boys, Chad not included.