Ten minutes before bed Oli busts out his profound question of the day “Dad, what are stars?”. Some children would be happy with ‘burning balls of gas millions of miles away’ kind of explanations to which they might say “oh” and move on, not understanding but having an answer filed away to regurgitate in the future. Well Oli isn’t one of those kids. He needs to understand something fully before he can file it away.
There wasn’t much scope for such an explanation in the ten minutes before bed, and besides I needed to get my head around a way of explaining it to him, so I promised to show him the solar system the next day.
The following afternoon the kids and I drove to the battle of the Falklands monument at the west end of Stanley. Along the shore line there is a scale model of the solar system, with the planets to scale size and distance from the sun. The sun itself is a huge rusty orange sphere about 5 ft in diameter, while Earth is an insignificant handful hundreds of metres away. We would have explored the further reaches of the solar system only Jack did a poo somewhere between Mars and Jupiter and we still had to walk many light years back to the car.
Perhaps one clear night we’ll show them the milky way, it’s an amazing sight from here, it’ll blow their minds!