Literature may come as pamphlets and books. Literature nowadays may arrive as blog posts and status updates. But can literature be expressed as measured footsteps, trudging over space and time in a quest to celebrate cosmic scale? If a physical activity can be defined as literature, then I say planet walks are literature.
After visiting family in western Michigan this weekend, I stopped by Aquinas College. There, for the third time, I did the Foster Planet Walk. By walking a carefully measured route marked with boulders, this walk allows you to experience the scale of our solar system. Following a map available on the college’s website, you walk from planet to planet in about 45 minutes at a leisurely pace. You begin at Mercury on the south side of campus and wind up all the way out at dwarf planet Pluto in the distant Kuiper Belt (aka the north side of campus).
For my third visit, I measured time. Standing around 6’1″ tall and walking at an average speed, here is how long it took me to stroll from planet to planet. Notice how the elapsed time dramatically increases beginning with the walk to Jupiter:
- Mercury to Venus – 7 seconds
- Venus to Earth – 7 seconds
- Earth to Mars – 5 seconds
- Mars to Jupiter – 36 seconds
- Jupiter to Saturn – 1 minute 2 seconds
- Saturn to Uranus – 1 minute 48 seconds
- Uranus to Neptune – 3 minutes 6 seconds
- Neptune to Pluto – 4 minutes