The Hill of Infinity

Looking up the hill from the hypercube - you can see a small stone exposed on an open horizon. The hill extends the scale model of the Solar system to the stars, nearby galaxies and vast structures in the distant Universe. Every 10 metres up the hill represents a tenfold increase in distance from the Sun.

Set in the ground are markers describing significant sights in the sky - and showing just how far away they are. Here are two examples:

Polaris, the Pole Star, because of its unique position in the sky, has for centuries guided ships at sea. It is a supergiant star with a diameter 100 times that of the Sun. Distance: 2.3´ 1013 km or 4.9´ 107 AU or 780 light years. On the scale of our model Solar System, Polaris would be 240,000 km from Armagh, nearly two thirds the distance to the Moon. The light now reaching us left this star in the early 13th Century, just after the Normans arrived in Ireland.

Orion nebula. A huge gaseous cloud that, to the naked eye, appears as a starlike object in Orion's Sword. Contains many bright young stars and is currently a centrre of star formation. Distance: 1.4´ 1014 km or 3.1´ 108  AU or 1500 light years. The light now reaching us from this nebula left during the early Christian era, approximately at the time St Patrick arrived in Ireland. On the scale of our model solar system, the Orion Nebula would lie at the distance of the Moon from Armagh.

On reaching the summit, you can look back down at the Solar system and hypercube, small compared with the green expanse around it. After your journey out through the Universe, you may get some sense of just how tiny the Earth is compared with the awesome immensity of the Universe.

Last Revised: 2010 January 29th