Zürich … walking at twice the speed of light (apparently) along the Uetliberg Planetenweg (Planet Walk) for a delightful out-of-this-world experience

I am sure dear reader you are well aware that it is best not to stare at the sun with the naked eye … unless you find yourself on top of Zurich’s only mountain Uetliberg, in which case it is positively encouraged. Thankfully, I was not left blinded as a result of staring at the Sun on the Swiss peak back in September 2015, but I was left wondering why on earth nobody has given it a rub down with a wet sponge recently as it was looking a bit grubby.

A rather mucky looking Sun seen from the peak of Zurich's only mountain, Uetliberg. Is that a sun spot on the Sun, or just a clean spot?

A rather mucky looking Sun seen from the peak of Zurich’s only mountain, Uetliberg. Is that a sun spot on the Sun, or just a clean spot?

I was of course looking at a model of the star and not the real thing. This scaled model of the Sun marks to start of the Uetliberg Planetenweg, a pleasant six kilometre walk along the ridge of the Swiss mountain. Models of planets pepper the walk along the way accurately scaled in size and distance to the Sun model where every metre of the trail represents one million kilometres of our solar system.

Whilst walking along this picturesque trail it doesn’t take long to realise how vast Space must be, and how utterly minuscule the human race is within it.

The Sun, marking the start of the Planet Walk across Uetliberg. Every metre of the trail and accompanying models, represents 100 million kilometres of the Solar System

The Sun, marking the start of the Planet Walk across Uetliberg. Every metre of the trail and accompanying models, represents 100 million kilometres of the Solar System

Each planet and dwarf planet along the trail is accompanied by a sign showing the planet's position in the Solar System and along the trail (albeit in German only)

Each planet and dwarf planet along the trail is accompanied by a sign showing the planet’s position in the Solar System and along the trail (albeit in German only)

Is there really a need to have a street lamp so close to the Sun here? Surely the Sun is bright enough

Is there really a need to have a street lamp so close to the Sun here? Surely the Sun is bright enough

Zurich Uetliberg, Planetenweg, Planet trail, Sun, couple walking past it

Once leaving the Sun behind, it took just a few hundred steps to come across the first planet along the walk.

Mercury, a tiny dot inside the blue panel of this rock post. The Sun can still be seen 57,894,000 km away. I didn't realise I was so long-sighted

Mercury, a tiny dot inside the blue panel of this rock post. The Sun can still be seen 57,894,000 km away. I didn’t realise I was so long-sighted

Zurich Uetliberg, Planetenweg, Planet trail, Mercury, close up with Sun in background

A mere 4879 km in diameter (or 4.8 mm here), even the midges flying around Mercury were significantly larger

A mere 4879 km in diameter (or 4.8 mm here), even the midges flying around Mercury were significantly larger

Pluto passing through Mercury's orbit (hawh-hawh!)

Pluto passing through Mercury’s orbit (hawh-hawh!)

Further along the path …

Venus, 108,204,000 km away from the Sun

Venus, 108,204,000 km away from the Sun

My bag giving a sense of scale to Venus here

My bag giving a sense of scale to Venus here

The view from Venus was rather lovely

The view from Venus was rather lovely

Only 40,000,000 kilometres further along the walk (40 m), I arrived home.

A beautiful day on Earth

A beautiful day on Earth

I needed to squint at this point to see the Sun from Earth and it could still just be seen in the distance. My camera also caught the edge of the rock post for Venus in this shot (to the right of the street lamps), 40,000,000 km away

I needed to squint at this point to see the Sun from Earth and it could still just be seen in the distance. My camera also caught the edge of the rock post for Venus in this shot (to the right of the street lamps), 40,000,000 km away

Earth and the Moon

Earth and the Moon

Much as I was enjoying my walk across the Solar System, I have to admit I got a little distracted by the sight of some alien-like creatures between Earth and Mars.

A giraffe-shaped light (year)

A giraffe-shaped light (year)

Zurich Uetliberg, Planetenweg, Planet trail, giraffe lights

This herd of fancy giraffe lights led to the Zurich TV transmitter tower ...

This herd of fancy giraffe lights led to the Zurich TV transmitter tower …

... and a neighbouring viewing platform that doubles as a radio transmitter ...

… and a neighbouring viewing platform that doubles as a radio transmitter …

... where one can enjoy some stunning views over central Zurich from the top of it

… where one can enjoy some stunning views over central Zurich from the top of it

The two towers of the Grossmünster, the green spire of the Fraumünster and one of the huge clock faces of St Peter's can be seen from the top of Uetliberg on a good day

The two towers of the Grossmünster, the green spire of the Fraumünster and one of the huge clock faces of St Peter’s can be seen from the top of Uetliberg on a good day

Zurich Uetliberg, Planetenweg, Planet trail, view over Zurich with transmitter tower

Back along the Solar System …

Cycling past Mars at the speed of light (well, very fast anyway)

Cycling past Mars at the speed of light (well, very fast anyway)

Mars

Mars

A little further on I reached the astroid belt.

Ceres maybe the largest object in the astroid belt, but is also possibly the smallest object on display along this walk

Ceres maybe the largest object in the astroid belt, but is also possibly the smallest object on display along this walk

However, Ceres does appear to have water ... and somewhere to sit down

However, Ceres does appear to have water … and somewhere to sit down

After passing Ceres, it took a while to reach the next planet along the walk.

Jupiter, with matching handbag

Jupiter, with matching handbag

The Sun was now out of sight but the TV transmitter tower was acting as a good signpost for it, indicating how far Jupiter, myself and this neighbouring restaurant appeared to be from it

The Sun was now out of sight but the TV transmitter tower was acting as a good signpost for it, indicating how far Jupiter, myself and this neighbouring restaurant appeared to be from it

Some space age toilet humour inside Jupiter's neighbouring restaurant. So, is this what inhabitants of Jupiter look like? (what a p*ss poor caption)

Some space age toilet humour inside Jupiter’s neighbouring restaurant. So, is this what inhabitants of Jupiter look like? (what a p*ss poor caption)

There was a even longer stretch to walk between Jupiter and Saturn, but the scenery along the way was absolutely beautiful.

Amazing views across western Zurich on the way to Saturn

Amazing views across western Zurich on the way to Saturn

Looking back towards the Sun, close to the TV and radio transmitter towers

Looking back towards the Sun, close to the TV and radio transmitter towers

A lovely spot in Outer Space

A lovely spot in Outer Space

Finally, I reached Saturn.

Saturn

Saturn

Zurich Uetliberg, Planetenweg, Planet trail, Saturn, from below with trees

Lake Zurich seen through the trees near Saturn

Lake Zurich seen through the trees near Saturn

Another long but pleasant stretch of the Solar System had to be covered before reaching Uranus

Another long but pleasant stretch of the Solar System had to be covered before reaching Uranus

Zurich Uetliberg, Planetenweg, Planet trail, view of Lake Zurich between Uranus and Neptune

Uranus, coloured blue

Uranus, coloured blue

Even though it was billions of kilometres away from the Sun, Uranus appeared to be getting plenty of light.

Uranus eclipsing the sun

Uranus eclipsing the sun

Zurich Uetliberg, Planetenweg, Planet trail, Uranus, with gliders

Although there were a few hundred million more kilometres to go before reaching Neptune and dwarf planet Pluto at Felsenegg, the end of the trail and the furthest reaches of our solar system could now be seen in the distance, a sight probably appreciated more by the paragliders above me.

The tower at Felsenegg in the distance marking the end of the trail and the Solar System

The tower at Felsenegg in the distance marking the end of the trail and the Solar System

The Sun and the transmitter towers behind me, now a distant memory

The Sun and the transmitter towers behind me, now a distant memory

Just before reaching Neptune, I passed the point where Pluto passes as close to the Sun as it possibly can during its 248 year long orbit around it.

But where is Pluto? Has someone stolen Pluto? Or has it been removed because it is no longer classed as a planet?

But where is Pluto? Has someone stolen Pluto? Or has it been removed because it is no longer classed as a planet?

Neptune ... and the TV & radio transmitter towers marking the position of the Sun (give or take a few hundred million kilometres) can just be made out in the distance, 4498 billion kilometres away (or just under 4.5 kilometres for me and my fellow paragliders)

Neptune … and the TV & radio transmitter towers marking the position of the Sun (give or take a few hundred million kilometres) can just be made out in the distance, 4498 billion kilometres away (or just under 4.5 kilometres for me and my fellow paragliders)

Zurich Uetliberg, Planetenweg, Planet trail, Neptune, close up with transmitter tower in background

Shortly leaving Neptune the path through the beautiful Uetliberg plains led into a wood and towards Felsenegg tower and cable car station. Yet, on finally reaching the cable car station, Pluto was still another few minutes walk away further into the wood. Eventually …

At last, Pluto

At last, Pluto

Zurich Uetliberg, Planetenweg, Planet trail, Pluto, and sign

Although Pluto is absolutely tiny and 5,906,380,000 kilometres away from the Sun ...

Although Pluto is absolutely tiny and 5,906,380,000 kilometres away from the Sun …

... one can still enjoy a beautiful sun set from it

… one can still enjoy a beautiful sun set from it

A quick five minutes walk back into the wood to Felsenegg station …

Zurich Uetliberg, Planetenweg, Planet trail, Felsenegg cable car station

… I took the cable car down to Adliswil and caught a tram back the Zurich HB.

The cable car from Felsenegg down to Adliswil

The cable car from Felsenegg down to Adliswil

A look back at the Sun somewhere near the TV & radio transmitter towers six kilometres away, whilst on the cable car down to Adliswil

A look back at the Sun somewhere near the TV & radio transmitter towers six kilometres away, whilst on the cable car down to Adliswil

The path of the Planetenweg is very well maintained, well sign-posted and is reasonably flat along the whole route making for a lovely, undemanding six kilometre walk at a comfortable altitude (the peak of Uetliberg is 871 m).

The S10 Zurich HB - Uetliberg tram

The S10 Zurich HB – Uetliberg tram

To reach the Sun and the start of the Planet walk, the S10 ‘Uetliberg’ tram leaves Zurich HB twice an hour terminating at the peak of Uetliberg around twenty minutes later. This journey alone is a delight offering stunning views of Zurich below as the tram chugs its way up the mountain side, whistling like an old steam engine as it approaches junctions and trams going in the opposite direction.

On reaching the end of the walk, Felsenegg cable car will take passengers down to Adliswil usually every 15-20 minutes. This journey is covered by a valid Zurich public transport travelcard, otherwise tickets can be bought for a few Swiss francs from the machines inside the small station. Don’t wait for the car to arrive. Go through the barrier as the car is already there and will automatically set off at precisely the time the dot matrix displays say it will. The journey down to Adliswil takes less than five minutes. The cable car operates between 0800-2200 Monday to Saturday and 0800-2000 on Sundays in all but the Winter months where the operation times are shorter. There are easy-access paths down to Adliswil if the cable car is not operating. Timetables (albeit in German) for the cable car can be found here.

Regular trams and buses direct to Zurich city centre and Zurich HB can be caught at Adliswil station, a short walk from the cable car station and clearly sign posted. The journey from Adliswil back into town takes around twenty minutes by tram, a little longer by bus.

Walking at a leisurely pace, the Planetenweg from Uetliberg peak to Felsenegg took me around two-and-a-half hours. Apparently, that meant I was travelling through the Uetliberg Solar System at twice the speed of light. Fancy that.

More information on the Planetenweg and other activities and events that can be enjoyed along Uetliberg can be found on the official website here.

Gazing at the real moon from Adliswil

Gazing at the real moon from Adliswil

TLT x

 

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1 Response to Zürich … walking at twice the speed of light (apparently) along the Uetliberg Planetenweg (Planet Walk) for a delightful out-of-this-world experience

  1. Anne Guy says:

    Thanks for an entertaining inter planetary journey through the universe!

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