Anstruther Model Solar System – Anstruther, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Anstruther Model Solar System

Bronze plates placed around this Scottish fishing village form a true-scale model of the solar system. 


Visitors to the Scottish fishing village of Anstruther have an opportunity offered by few other places: they can walk from the Sun to Pluto in a reasonable amount of time.

In the solar system, the sun is, on average, around 3.6 billion miles from Pluto. In Anstruther, it is about a third of a mile away. That is a scale of 1:10,000,000,000.

The Anstruther Model Solar System consists of 11 bronze plates placed at true-scale intervals that represent the distances from the Sun to eight planets and two dwarf planets in the solar system. The planets, and brief descriptions of them, are presented on bronze plates affixed to the side of buildings in town, mostly along Shore Street, by the Fife Coastal Park.

The images of the planets are to scale as well, so some of them look like specks. At this same scale, the person walking from planet to planet is approximately the size of an atom, and realizing that, and also how small even the Earth is in the broader context of space, is part of the idea of the installation. 

The Anstruther Model Solar System, the only true-scale model of the solar system in Scotland, officially opened on June 21st, 2015, on the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice. It was the brainchild of Norman Patterson, who has said he hopes it will become a reliable fixture of the town, with people arranging to meet, for instance, “at Saturn at 5 o’clock.” 

Perhaps generously, the model includes ex-planet Pluto, 100 meters past Dreel Tavern on Dreelside, and its fellow dwarf planet, Ceres. Neptune, appropriately, given that it shares its name with the Roman god of the sea, is on the Esplanade, which is only accessible directly from Shore Street at low tide.

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The walk begins with the Sun at a building that used to be known as the Sun Tavern, which is opposite the lifeboat shed at East Shore.

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