Saturday, September 20, 2008

We've gone solar

I came up with a few half-baked ideas to fill a few hours of the school holidays. Michael had asked me if we could make an orrery - a mechanical model of the solar system. He saw one in the background in a storybook and it really stuck in his head. I tried to think of an achievable way of making one, but I couldn't really. I know that if I made a non-functional contraption out of toothpicks and foam balls, we would be stuck with it forever, so matter how unsightly and hopeless it might look to grown-ups.

So I aimed low, and instead I drew approximate sized circles for the kids to colour in. I had Karri and Miah as well as the boys that day, so we shared the planets around. I cut the sun out of an old sample calendar made of yellow card, and everyone joined in drawing flames on it. When they had finished the planets I added some shading to one side, and used my recently redisovered blu-tak technique to make a highlight on the sun side, then I just stuck it all to the wall with the versatile grey-blue product.

Marcus was very specific about the moons. He had read somewhere that Mars had 2, Saturn 16, Jupiter 10 etc etc. I think he remembered them all perfectly, but thanks to the Hubble telescope a lot of this long-accepted stuff is out of date now. Jupiter now has four big moons, 12 substantial moons and at least 47 moonlets. Then there is all that ridiculous dwarf-planet business, whereby Pluto has been de-planetised. There are officially now 8 planets, and four dwarf planets. Some of the dwarf planets have moons. Also Marcus is very keen to add the rings which have now been observed around Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus. I am having trouble accepting non-Saturnian rings - I like Saturn to be special! I don't want to talk about TNOs (trans-Neptunian objects).

The next door boys were over here this afternoon so I set the four boys to work colouring moons. Eventually we will get the moons into orbit and probably the rest of the rings and I guess the dwarf planets and then we might look at some labels. So let's call this picture a progress report.


Matt K said...

It may blow your mind but last night I saw on TV one of those "collect the series of magazines" deals which constructs ... an ORRERY. Quite the coincidence. It may end up costing about $34345 though.

Mal Leonard Cohen said...

At some of the 'better' universities if you represent the school in certain sports, at a certain level, you are awarded a 'Blue' (which I is a jacket) some girls will only mix with these chaps - and are referred to as Blue-Taks.
There is a hierarchy of sports as some are only half-blues.

Mal Leonard Cohen said...

of course I is not a jacket, I is an idiot for not checking for typos.