Finding more planets

We finally finished our planets project, with limited success. Overall, a 40% failure rate. Here’s our wrap-up:

PLUTO- Riverside Station, Newton: 12/06/09

We started our adventure from the Kuiper belt and worked our way inward. I still think Pluto was my favorite visit.

Planet 1

And here is the Cosmic Eyeball of Size Comparison, a tradition started that day:

Planet 2

I like how the cold, distant planet had ice and snow covering its base.

NEPTUNE- Square One Mall, Saugus: 01/01/10

Gone! Sucked into a black hole! We had to settle for a picture where Neptune should have been:



Planet 3

We were nonplussed and I ended up calling the planetarium to find out where Neptune had gone. The lady I talked to didn’t know, but said she would find out and call me back. She called back five minutes later to tell me that Neptune was “unavailable” due to vandalism, Uranus was present but difficult to access (snicker), and that Saturn was also “unavailable.” I considered ending the project right there, but something compelled us to continue.

We ended up drawing a picture to use for the Cosmic Eyeball of Size Comparison:


Planet 4

URANUS- Jamaica Plain Public Library: 01/02/10

The next day we sought Uranus. I had a good time asking the librarian where it was, and should would not say “Uranus”. Instead she referred to it as “the planet”. It was in the basement, where a professional storyteller was waiting.


Planet 5

She was scheduled to perform that day, but due to a snowstorm, not a single person had shown up. So we sat for a couple of stories with her instead. Then we took pictures of Uranus.

Planet 6

I was unhappy with how unflattering that picture was of me, and vowed that from then on, I would make a point to dress up before visiting any more planets.

Cosmic Eyeball of Size Comparison:

Planet 7

SATURN- In front of the Old Folks’ Home, Summer Street, Somerville 02/06/10

Saturn was of course “unavailable”, but I found a picture of what it’s supposed to look like:

Planet 8

Not to be deterred, I constructed a scale model of Saturn myself, and Jon worked out the scaled distance it should be from the planetarium. What a coincidence! It was just a few hundred yards from our house! It was freezing out that day, though. Seemed like the coldest day of the year. My fingers were completely numb after taking the pictures.

Planet 9

I was pleased with my Saturn model and Jon’s emoting in that picture. I fancied that I could very well be a set designer for an Ed Wood movie and Jon could be the star.

Cosmic Eyeball of Size Comparison:

Planet 10

Upon checking our figures again later on, it turns out that we were a little off on where Saturn should be. Turns out that Saturn should actually have been placed right in our house. But nobody would have believed us that it was that convenient.

JUPITER- South Station, Boston 01/24/10

Planet 11

You can see I dressed up better this time.

Cosmic Eyeball of Size Comparison:

Planet 12

MARS- Cambridgeside Galleria, Cambridge 02/07/10

I had forgotten that I had already worn the dumb pink rose-tights for Jupiter. Ah, well. From now on they will forever be my Outer Space Tights, so they’re extra-special now.

Planet 13

Look! It’s Mars!

Planet 14

Good ol’ Mars. It was when I first happened upon it at the mall one day and thought “What the heck is this?” that I learned of the planets and decided to one day visit them all. It would be about five years from my first discovery of Mars until I set out to do it for real.

Eyeball of Size Comparison:

Planet 15

EARTH- Royal Sonesta Hotel, Cambridge 02/07/10

Earth was one block away from Mars, so it made sense to go there immediately after visiting Mars. There’s Jon, pointing to the Museum of Science where we we going to complete the project. We weren’t far off now.

Planet 16

This was my favorite Cosmic Eyeball of Size Comparison picture. Since we were at the mall anyway, we had picked up some snacks while we at the mall.

Planet 17

If you look close, you can see an India, an Australia and a suggestion of Indonesia.

VENUS- Boston Museum of Science, greenhouse parking garage. 03/06/10
It was ungodly hot in that stairwell on the fifth floor under a glass house- perfect for visiting hellish Venus, just as icy Pluto and frigid Saturn were weather-appropriate. Jon had a hard time looking cheerful for these pictures. He was wearing a heavy sweater and it was probably about 85 degrees in that spot.

Planet 18

Cosmic Eyeball of Size Comparison

Planet 19

After Venus was when things became disappointing. For one thing, we had discovered that the Planetarium, which holds the sun, was closed for renovation until 2011. Splat. All our dreams of completing our months-long interplanetary adventure just imploded. But we had come this far and all we could do was finish as best we could.

MERCURY- Boston Museum of Science, Main Lobby. 03/06/10

Mercury was supposed to be in the main lobby but we couldn’t find it anywhere. We searched and searched every inch of the museum that we were allowed to travel through without paying admission, but Mercury was gone. I finally went to the information desk and asked where it was.

“Oh well, they’re renovating the planetarium, so they took all the planets off exhibit.”
“But we just saw Venus…[not to mention five other planets all over the greater Boston area]…I know the planetarium’s closed but maybe the planets are still around?”
“No, they took them all away! Sorry!”

She was full of crap. I have photographic proof that most of the planets are still standing, so it’s possible that Mercury was still hanging around the museum somewhere, like Venus was, but it was a pointless argument. Or maybe they really did take Mercury but were not motivated enough to travel all over the state to collect the still-remaining planets.

At this point we were just stubbornly pissed and desperate to finish this any way we could. I said to Jon “We’ll go to the gift shop and find something small and round to stand in for Mercury!”

This was easier said than done. I was thinking we could get a bag of candy or gumballs or something and use one, but the only candy they had was astronaut ice cream. They also had rocks and gems, some of which were vaguely round, but you had to buy a whole bag of them. I finally settled on something, waited in a long line full of screaming kids and met Jon back out in the lobby, where Mercury was supposed to be.

Planet 20

And our Cosmic Eyeball of Size Comparison:

Planet 21

It’s an insect pen. A Japanese beetle, maybe? It’s a little too large for Mercury, but the best we could do.

That just left the Sun.

THE SUN- Boston Museum of Science, Hayden Planetarium. Closed for Renovation until 2011. 03/06/10

Planet 22


There I am pointing to the Planetarium, which contains or contained the sun. Maybe it’s better this way. You don’t want to fly too close to the sun anyway.

So there you have it, our interplanetary adventure. Kind of a failure. Or maybe it’s symbolic of our plucky spirit and indomitable will in the face of neverending adversity. Or something.